Veterans remember those killed at Pearl Harbor

A VFW and American Legion Honor Guard fire a three-shot volley to honor those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 76 years ago, at a ceremony on Dec. 7, 2017 at Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa.

Colusa County residents joined local veterans last Thursday to remember the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, which catapulted the Untied States into World War II.

The Colusa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2441 and Maxwell American Legion Post No. 218 hosted the ceremony, which marked the 76th anniversary of the aerial attack that targeted the Pacific Fleet of the U.S. Navy, in its home port of Pearl Harbor, and the American airfields near Honolulu, Hawaii.

The attack began around 8 AM on a Sunday morning, and resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 Americans and numerous injuries.

“The attack lasted just over two hours, but the Japanese managed to destroy nearly 20 American Naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and almost 200 airplanes,” said Bill Tanner, VFW Post 2441 commander.

Tanner said the attack by the Japanese was an attempt to diminish the United State’s influence in the Pacific, so that the Axis powers of Japan, Germany and Italy could continue their march toward global fascism.

“As we know, the attack woke a sleeping giant,” Tanner said.

History, Tanner said, would eventually record that Japan did not have the ability to defend the territories it had amassed in the Pacific prior to poking a slumbering America, and was no match for the U.S.’s resolve, and its economic and military power.

Although it’s not a formal holiday, the Colusa VFW and Maxwell American Legion flew the American flag at half-staff on Pearl Harbor Day to remember the lives lost. Honoring the dead included a three-volley salute by the ceremonial Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps” by Zack Dennis.

Thursday’s ceremony was also held to honor all veterans who had served or are still serving in the nation’s military, just as President Donald J. Trump did when he honored the military “past and present” when he proclaimed Dec. 7, 2017, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

“Today, a new generation of brave men and women in uniform stand ready to oppose any threat to our Nation and the civilized world,” Trump noted. “Though the decades have passed, we are careful to never forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor. Our Armed Forces must be strong and vigilant, prepared to fight and preserve all we hold dear. It is our greatest obligation – our most solemn duty – to ensure our Nation remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The Pearl Harbor Day ceremony Thursday was held in Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa, where the names of more than 600 local U.S. veterans are inscribed on bricks, and permanently encased in concrete monuments.

Many of those names are from single families, whose generations have served in multiple conflicts.

George Sandridge, of Colusa, will add nine more bricks to the memorial, for a total of 10, to remember his military family, including his father, Harold Sandridge, who served in the U.S. Navy, grandfather Walter McCullough, who served in the U.S. Army in World War II, uncles and others.

McCullough and his wife, Ester (Bressler) McCullough were instrumental in the building of the VFW hall in Colusa in the 1950’s.

“I have a lot of family history in that place,” Sandridge said. “My whole family is military – on both sides.”

Sandridge, who is a member of both the local VFW and American Legion posts, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1973-1977 in Laos and Thailand, at the end of the Vietnam conflict. ■