BIG RUN — The Big Run VFW Post No. 9044 and Ladies’ Auxiliary remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor Sunday at Big Run’s War Memorial building.
The attack called the Hawaii Operation — or Operation Z, by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, and the Battle of Pearl Harbor by some Americans — was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
The next day, the United States declared war on Japan, resulting in its entry into the second World War.
The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war that the empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against Great Britain and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S. in the Philippines.
The base was attacked by Japanese aircraft (a total of 353, in two waves) launched from six aircraft carriers. Four U.S. Navy battleships were sunk (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and all of the four other battleships present were damaged. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer.
Nearly 200 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, 2,402 personnel were killed and 1,282 were wounded. The attack was a major engagement of World War II and came as a profound shock to the American people.
Local pastor and Navy veteran Thomas Krishart was the featured speaker and described how things have changed in the U.S. since World War II.
Krishart said that he has a daughter-in-law who is a nuclear engineer and had been working for Westinghouse Nuclear, the company that provided the nuclear fuel to the reactors and some nuclear fuel to the U.S. military for missiles.
“She informed me last year that Westinghouse Nuclear was sold and is owned by a new company called Toshiba,” Krishart said, noting that Toshiba of Japan is now the owner of the only nuclear fuel maker in the U.S.
Krishart pointed out while reflecting on the events that happened on Pearl Harbor that on a typical Sunday in America, many people aren’t even out of bed by 10 a.m.
“The attack on Pearl Harbor was done and over by 10 a.m. on that day in 1941,” Krishart said. “At 3:30 a.m. that day, a young sailor was doing his duty, and just happened to be outside the port at Pearl Harbor when he saw what looked like a stick in the water. He realized it shouldn’t be there, and he reported the occurrence to his commander while the community slept in peace.
“That stick was a Japanese submarine that had snuck into port. Later in the morning at 6:45 a.m., they shot at the sub near Pearl Harbor and reported it,” he added. “That was the funny thing about Sundays — even the staff at the command center liked to sleep in and have their morning coffee, and this report went unnoticed.”
Krishart added that later that morning, there was another group of young men who were working with new technology at the time, called radar.
“This young team of men were being trained, and maybe they couldn’t decipher what they were looking at on the screen. They saw what they first thought were birds, and then realized that they were looking at airplanes,” he said. “They called it in to their higher ups, and were told a flight of B-17s was due in from California. The warning from this crew of young men was ignored. The attack that day was over by 10 a.m. before anyone was out of bed on a Sunday.”
Krishart added that the attack was not intended to start a war — it was intended to only delay the buildup of naval forces in the Pacific, while Japan went around and took over Austrialia, the Solomon Islands and other countries because of the resources the country had.
“They thought falsely that if they attacked Pearl Harbor, they could do enough damage that would take over 18 months for America to rebuild the Pacific fleet,” Krishart said. “Thousands upon thousands of lives were lost because people wouldn’t listen. Thousands of loved ones never returned home because of the bullheadedness of some men.
“I ask you this day to remember those who gave their lives so many years ago — people who just got up and wanted to have a normal day,” Krishart added. “Whether the rest of the world outside of these brick walls knows it or not, the veterans of World War II have truly been the defenders of freedom, people who provide freedom in America.
Special music for the program was provided by Trevor Runco on his saxophone. A special reading was done by Merica Pallone, and the Jefferson County Veterans Honor Guard and the Big Run Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts also participated in the event.