By Eileen Majors
75 Years Ago- December 7, 1941
It was early December, 1941 and the Navy was on high alert. The USS Arizona was one of 145 Navy and Coast Guard vessels positioned at or in the waters near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Battleship USS Pennsylvania was one of them, and my dad, Henry Jacob Heinz was on that ship which was in dry-dock at the time. On December 6th (he told me) there was a big party and with the help of the ships’ bands, music and fun was enjoyed by all, perhaps leaving some a bit off guard for the next morning’s events.
It was 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time when the fateful attack occurred. Churches across the country announced news of the attack at their Sunday morning services. The USS Pennsylvania was one of many ships that were damaged in the attack. My dad said it blew the whole galley out of their ship.
It was not long before the beaches were lined with giant rolls of barbed wire to prevent an attack via water. The entire country and Hawaii was on high alert. The attack lasting less than two hours, claimed the lives of over 2,400 people, wounded 1,000 and destroyed or damaged nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes.
Visiting the site of the sunken USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor is a valuable tour through history. My sister, my husband and I had the honor of taking my dad to the Navy’s tour. We boarded a boat with WWII veterans as our guides and headed out to the site of the USS Arizona. As we sat down I said, “I’m going to let them know we have a Pearl Harbor survivor on board.” My dad would have none of that. “Sit down,” he said reinforcing it with motion. Sadly, I sat. However, at some time my husband who was sitting on the end seat managed to get word to someone. Within a minute they made the announcement, “We have a Pearl Harbor survivor on board today.” Tears filled mine and Merilyn’s eyes as we watched my dad receive a standing ovation. We returned to the park and landed in the gift shop where he was inundated with inquiring folks. People were pointing to books and asking all kinds of questions. It was indeed something to behold for us to see our dad honored that day, and today it is with deep honor that we salute Pearl Harbor Survivors across the country. Mountain Valley Living Magazine extends a warm thanks to every member of the military, past and present, for their service to our country.
Remembering Pearl Harbor 75 Years Ago- December 7, 1941
By Eileen Majors