Pearl Harbor Survivors Honored
Hundreds turned out at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday morning, January 17, 2015, to pay an emotional tribute and farewell to the remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors from the Pensacola area. Local authors and Pearl Harbor historians, Billie and Robert Nicholson, who chronicled the survivors’ return to Pearl Harbor in 2011, were also honored.
As part of the Museum’s Discovery Saturday series, called Remembering Pearl Harbor, the Day and Its Heroes, the program opened with an Invocation offered by retired Navy pilot, Christopher Robinson, Pastor of Deliverance Tabernacle Church in Milton, Florida, followed by the singing of The National Anthem by gospel singer Richard Long, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Pensacola.
There was standing room only in the Museum’s Blue Angels atrium hanger as a rapt audience listened to tributes and presentations by Lt. Gen Duane D. Thiessen, USMC (Ret), President and CEO of the Museum’s Foundation, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Pensacola NAS Commanding Officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN.
Surrounded by the Museum’s vintage aircraft hanging overhead, the actual morning of the attack was described in vivid eyewitness accounts by remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors, William Braddock, 92, Cass Phillips, 94, Frank Emond, 96, and Jay Carraway, 92.
Pearl Harbor Survivor Cass Phillips said when he first noticed the “meatballs” painted on the side of the airplanes flying in, he thought it was just another Sunday morning exercise and commented about how realistic they were – until they started dropping bombs. Over two thousand four hundred Americans lost their lives in the attack.
WCOA 1370 Talk Radio Host Don Parker’s talk, Attack on Battleship Row, December 7th, 1941, included original archival footage and a description of the Japanese high command.
Publicist and emcee Dianna Roberts read the national winning Pearl Harbor essay by 7th grader, Jenny Anderson from Camano Island, WA entitled, Ingenuity, Sacrifice and Teamwork.
Pensacola Naval Air Station commanding officer Capt. Keith Hoskins, USN, spoke about NAS Pensacola during WW II just after the attack when Pensacola NAS mobilized to become the world’s foremost military aviation training center. Hoskins, a former lead solo pilot with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, called the men, “heroes”, and admitted he was “humbled to be on the same stage as them.”
Pearl Harbor Survivors Receive Proclamations from Mayor
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward read a city proclamation honoring the men for their bravery and courage under fire and how they had all sacrificed and fought “so we can sleep well every night.” Recently deceased Pearl Harbor survivors Jim Landis and George Mills were honored posthumously with the sounding of Taps by veteran bugler, Scotty Mills.
Boy Scout Troop Read Pearl Harbor Survivor Stories
The highlight for the men was the reading of their stories from the Nicholson’s book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye, by Pensacola honor scouts from Boy Scout Troop 628 and Venture Crew 628 while standing on the stage next to the survivors. “We should remember the motto of these Boy Scouts – ‘Be Prepared’, said survivor Cass Phillips. “We were not prepared for what happened that day. People need to hear these stories and remember our history and learn from it.”
Story Credit: Dianna Roberts