THE MEMORY OF PEARL HARBOR LIVES ON 79 YEARS AFTER THE SURPRISE ATTACK THAT LAUNCHED THE UNITED STATES INTO WORLD WAR II

Thu Dec 03 2020 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

79 Years after Pearl Harbor

THE SURVIVORS of the "date which will live in infamy," are nearly all gone now, but the men and women who endured the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor will not be forgotten.

Freeholders Joseph H. Vicari and Gerry P. Little, whose fathers both served in World War II, asked all of Ocean County's residents to remember the 79th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"It's important that the younger generations especially remember the importance of December 7, 1941," Vicari said. "Pearl Harbor was our fathers' and our grandfathers' 9-11."

The attack began shortly before 8 am Hawaiian time, when warplanes from six Japanese aircraft carriers swept over the harbor on the beautiful Sunday morning, launching bombs and torpedoes against the United States Pacific Fleet.

The victory was complete, but short-lived. More than 2,400 Americans were dead and the fleet lay burning on the shallow harbor bottom.

Pearl Harbor galvanized the United States and within days long lines of volunteers lined up at recruiting offices across the county.

"The nation had been strongly divided before the attack," Little said. "Many people wanted the country to stay out of the war. Pearl Harbor changed all that and filled the nation with resolve."

The fleet too was quickly rebuilt. Of the 23 ships sunk or damaged, all but three returned to active duty.

The most famous casualty of the attack, the USS Arizona, remains on the harbor bottom, a memorial to the 1,177 sailors and marines killed when a bomb touched off her forward magazine.

The war ended less than 4 years later when Japan surrendered unconditionally on September 2, 1945.

"Let us remember all of the brave men and women who fought against tyranny around the globe," Little said. "They truly are the Greatest Generation."

A member of the Greatest Generation and a victim of the Pearl Harbor attack returned home only 3 years ago.

The remains of Machinist's Mate 1st Class Earl R. Melton of Lakewood were identified in 2017 and were buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Melton had been trapped on the battleship USS Oklahoma when the ship was hit by multiple torpedoes and capsized, killing 429 men.

The news was released by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, a federal agency charged with identifying killed and missing American servicemen and servicewomen from all wars.