Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Air Raid Pearl Harbor X This Is Not A Drill

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The events of that day would become a seminal event in American history. America lost some of her innocence that day. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt rightly called this a "day that will live in infamy". Archives play a role in our remembrance of Pearl Harbor and World War II. The image is a broadside created in 1942 by Allen Sandburg issued by the Office of War Information in Washington D. C., and is courtesy of the U. S. Naval Historical Center. The quotation is from Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

One of the most iconic images of the attack is that of the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) on fire and sinking. James Buchanan Reed, Jr, Tarleton class of 1933, was a storekeeper first class on board the Arizona. He did not survive the attack and his body lies with that of more than 900 of his shipmates inside the hull of the Arizona.

The National Archives (NARA) has digitized many of the images and documents related to Pearl Harbor and World War II. By searching NARA's Archival Research Catalog (ARC) for digital copies one can find images of the attack and its aftermath. Included are the familiar images and those of battleships that had rolled upside down due to damage being righted. Documents include the famous Air Raid Pearl Harbor X This is not a drill radio message. The Library of Congress American Memory Today in History page has numerous links to documents and sources. These sources include man on the street interviews that conducted on December 8, 1941 to capture the public's initial reaction to the bombing. The Library of Congress also has a Veteran's History Project that preserves oral history interviews with World War II veterans' and those of latter wars.

The Oregon State Archives has on online exhibit that features the experience of the Willamette University football team at Pearl Harbor. The team was in Hawaii to play a post-season game. They had played the previous day and were waiting for a sightseeing tour of the island when the attack occurred. I will not tell the whole story, but the team was inducted into the Army and placed on sentry duty, and did make it back to Oregon.
American forces would not attack the Japanese homeland until April 18, 1942. In a daring plan using land based B-25 bombers to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8). The pilot of the number three plane was Tarleton graduate Robert Gray. His crew’s mission was to bomb a steel mill, a chemical company, and a gas company, all in Tokyo. The crew hit all their targets. Unable to make an airfield, Gray and his crew bailed out over China. All of his crew members survived the bailout and made their way back to United States forces. 

Gray was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the Doolittle raid. He was born in Killeen, Texas and a member of the 1940 class of Tarleton majoring in Civil and Aeronautical Engineering. Robert Gray was killed in action in a B-25 crash during a combat mission six months to the day of the Doolittle raid on October 18, 1942 near Assam India. Robert Gray airfield at Fort Hood Texas is named in his honor. Today there is only one surviving member of the Doolittle raid In the image on the right Robert Gray is the second person on the left. (Official USAF photo) 

While it the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry was certainly the big news story nationwide. For Tarleton the big news story in the December 9, 1941 J-TAC was winning the bugle at the first Silver Taps ceremony. A smaller article noted that Hawaii and the Philippines were attacked by Japan and the President and Congress had declared war on Japan, that all national resources would be turned to national defense and that a number of causalities had been reported in the fighting in the Pacific. 

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