7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbor, 80 years ago

This date was by President Roosevelt referred to as “a date that will live in infamy” in his speech delivered to Congress on 8 December 1941 asking to declare a state of war against the Japanese empire following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

The date will forever hold a special meaning to those that were present at Pearl Harbor during the attacks and to those that suffered through the following years of war.

As the President addresses Congress Pearl Harbor is still dealing with the shock and aftermath of the attacks that claimed the lives of over 2400 military personnel and civilians.

Presence

Donald Stratton, Ken Potts, Don Long and Jack Holder were all four present at Pearl Harbor on this day – each with their own unique story but unified in that they escaped death. All four have also honored The Log Book by signing one of the ageing pages adding tremendous gravitas to the project.

DONALD STRATTON, USS Arizona (BB-39) – suffered burns to over 65% of his body as he with 5 others were trapped in a burning inferno onboard USS Arizona (BB-39). Thanks to the brave actions of Joe George – who from USS Vestal managed to throw a monkey fist with a heaving line over to the burning USS Arizona – Donald Stratton and 5 comrades were able to climb hand over hand across burning water to the USS Vestal deck.

Donald Stratton - Pearl Harbor survivor
Donald Stratton – USS Arizona (BB-39)

KEN POTTS, USS Arizona (BB-39) – having survived the initial attack on USS Arizona (BB-39) he got into a small transport craft and started scooping up survivors from the burning waters. Making numerous trips to Ford Island offloading survivors many lives were saved that day…and many bodies were recovered.

Ken Potts - Pearl Harbor survivor
Ken Potts – USS Arizona (BB-39), Battleship row

JACK HOLDER, VP-26 – roll call had just started in a hangar on Ford Island when Holder hears screaming aircraft and moments later a terrible explosion. As he runs out to take cover in a ditch he realizes the bomb has hit the hangar next to them. Escaping strafing Japanese aircraft that day he later serves with distinction in the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal and in Europe.

Jack Holder - Pearl Harbor survivor
Jack Holder – VP-26, Ford Island

DON LONG, VP-12 – Radioman 2nd class Long was heading out to his PBY seaplane in the middle of Kaneohe Bay as he heard approaching aircraft. His assumption of it being the Army Air Corps performing Sunday maneuvers were abruptly shattered as the bombing began. Long watched from his aircraft in the middle of the bay as the base was bombed. As fighters moved in for strafing runs his aircraft is hit and starts to sink. Luckily finding a life jacket he abandons the aircraft as it burst into flames, swimming through oily burning water he watches the rest of the attack clinging onto a buoy. Healing from the burns and wounds received he returns to duty earning his wings in 1943 serving with distinction in the South Pacific throughout the war.

Don Long – VP-12, Kaneohe Bay

Links – tribute – legacy

It is today 80 years since the attack and as we take a moment to reflect it is impossible to grasp the depth of horror and suffering these events inflicted – to millions on all sides – over the years to follow. There are but a few voices left today that can tell the story first hand – we are incredibly honored to have been given the endorsement of these stoic men.

Mr Stratton and Mr Potts signed on pages opposite each others on 21 July 2017 – their signatures forms a direct link to the USS Arizona (BB-39) and those that perished. Together with Mr Holder’s signature they jointly mark the formal entry into the war by America.

On 29 March 2019 Mr Vito Alongi added his name to the same page as Mr Stratton and with it completing a circle of profound meaning. Fireman 1st Class Alongi served on USS Missouri (BB-63) and was present in Tokyo bay on 2 September 1945. Atop one of Mighty Mo’s massive turrets he was overlooking the Japanese delegation as they signed the instrument of surrender effectively ending hostilities in World War II.

Signatures of Stratton, Potts and Alongi  - Pearl Harbor survivors.

So there – on a single page – next to each others – are two signatures that represents and captures the American involvement in the war.

Today we should take a moment to reflect and pay tribute to the fallen.

Last Updated on 7 December 2021 by Lars McKie

About Lars McKie 52 Articles
An ordinary Swede with a passion for history and just grateful to be given the chance to participate and contribute to the project.

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