Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129), the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, and North Cascades Chapter 5 honored those killed at Pearl Harbor 72 years ago during a commemoration ceremony, Dec. 6.
VAQ-129 hosted the Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration Ceremony at the PBY Memorial Foundation and Navy Heritage Center on the NASWI Seaplane Base, in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.
Capt. Michael Nortier, NASWI commanding officer, said NASWI was honored to have the survivors at the ceremony.
“We have just a few of the brave souls here today that defended our nation,” Nortier said. “In Pearl Harbor they were like today’s Sailors; we have the finest men and women deployed defending our nation.”
At the time of the attack Calavan was on the former battleship USS Utah (BB-31). It was the first ship attacked by the Japanese and the wreckage is still visible in the harbor.
“What made me angry is the Japanese knew we were there and their torpedoes sank us within 15 minutes,” Calavan said. “We weren’t prepared; over 2,000 young men died that day and it’s because we weren’t alert and ready. We can’t let that happen again.”
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 7, is to remember and honor all those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I was laying in a ditch,” Calavan said. “One of the nicest things about being 17 was I didn’t realize the great danger I was in from being in a ditch. I just knew I was scared.”
Calavan said that the day after the attack they had to pull the bodies out of the water. Most of the bodies had no identification and they had to cut their jaws out of their mouth to identify the bodies.
“I grew up a little that day,” Calavan said. “The next day I really grew up.”
Gayle Vyskocil, a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, laid a wreath outside the base of the USS Arizona memorial. The wreath honored the 2,403 Navy, Marine Corps, Army and civilian men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Sailors and attendees also laid carnations over the wreath showing their respect.
Press Release, December 09, 2013; Image: Wikimedia