Veterans recall Pearl Harbor, WW IIIt has been 71 years since Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. While the day continues to “live in infamy,” to quote President Franklin Roosevelt, no survivors of the battle survive in this region.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
It has been 71 years since Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. While the day continues to “live in infamy,” to quote President Franklin Roosevelt, no survivors of the battle survive in this region.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft staged a surprise attack on the American military forces at Pearl Harbor. The attack destroyed several major ships of the U.S. Navy and aircraft.
Americans who survived the attack formed the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1958. Although some veterans of the battle survive, the organization disbanded in 2011 because of dwindling membership. No known survivors remain in North Dakota.
“They are all gone,” said Warren Tobin, veterans service officer for Stutsman County. “We have lost all (in North Dakota) that served in Pearl Harbor on that day.”
Tobin said the ranks of the men and women who enlisted in the days and weeks after the attack have also been thinned by time. Any surviving veteran of World War II would be nearly 90 years old and many have passed away.
One who served after the attack was Art Talle, formerly of Sutton but now residing in Jamestown. He was drafted in August 1942, about eight months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He still remembers hearing about the attack.
“I was home on the farm at Sutton,” he said. “We knew it meant war. We were draft age and as soon as I hit 21, bingo, there I was.”
Louis Hanson, formerly of Ypsilanti and Jamestown but now of Bismarck, enlisted in the months just before Pearl Harbor. He was in training at Camp Claiborne, La., when he heard about the attack.
“I still remembered Roosevelt’s speech,” he said. “‘If they want war, we’ll give them war,’ he said.”
The day after the attack at Pearl Harbor the United States declared war on Japan with a declaration against Germany days later signaling America’s entry into World War II.
Hanson was shipped to San Francisco by Christmas Day of 1941 and then on to Australia and New Caledonia as part of the 164th Infantry. In October he was part of the attack upon the Japanese at Guadalcanal.
Talle ultimately served in Africa and Europe in the 740th Tank where he spent most of his time driving a truck.
“The officer asked if I was a farm boy,” he said. “The officers liked farm boys because they knew we could run equipment.”
Talle said his service took him to places he couldn’t even identify.
“We didn’t have to know where we were,” he said. “Didn’t have to. There was always somebody there to tell us where to go and when to be there.”
His memories of the war include diving out of a truck as the convoy was strafed by German aircraft and watching buzz bombs fly overhead as he dug a latrine.
Buzz bombs were winged, self-propelled bombs that flew in the direction they were pointed until they ran out of fuel and exploded as they crashed.
Talle was awarded the American Campaign Medal for Europe, Africa and the Middle East with three brass stars along with numerous other citations. Some of the commendations came as late as 2007 due to problems with issuing medals at the end of the war.
Hanson’s unit, the 164th Infantry, was highly decorated including the Navy Cross for its actions at Guadalcanal.
But both men say they didn’t serve for the medals or honors.
“The hell I went through,” Hanson said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I had a chance to protect my country.”
“I said how lucky I was to be back here,” he said. “It felt good to be there. I did something good for my country.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com