Photograph of Battleship Row taken from a Japanese plane at the beginning of the attack. The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on USS West Virginia. Two attacking Japanese planes can be seen — one over USS Neosho and one over the Naval Yard. | Wikipedia
POCATELLO – It’s been 81 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor and a local organization wants to make sure the memories of that day are not forgotten.
Bannock County Veteran Services is asking the public to share their memories of Dec. 7, 1941, the date the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked the the U.S. Naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii, killing more than 2,400 soldiers and civilians, and launched America into World War II.
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Most of the people who remember the event have since passed. That’s why Veteran Services Coordinator Melissa Hartman is calling for anyone with a connection to tell their story.
The idea came to Hartman after reading about Pocatello’s Sgt. James E. Johnson and his courageous service in the Korean War. Johnson departed for Korea in August 1950, just five days after the birth of his daughter, according to Marine Corps University. He was involved in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, a Chinese offensive targeting the 1st Marine Division of the U.S. X Corps and the United Nations.
The goal was to drive the U.S. and its allies out of North Korea, according to Britannica.com. Though it forced the X Corps to evacuate to South Korea, plans to destroy the 1st Marine Division failed.
“Instead, in a deliberate retrograde movement that has become one of the most-storied exploits in Marine Corps lore, the Marines turned and fought their way down a narrow vulnerable road through several mountain passes and a bridged chasm until they reached transport ships waiting at the coast,” Brittanica.com reports.
Johnson’s regular outfit was with the 11th Marines, but he was serving with a provisional company of the 7th Marines at the time. He is reported to have engaged the enemy in close grenade hand-to-hand combat on December 2, 1950.
“The enemy were wearing the uniforms of friendly troops. He was listed as missing in action until January 1954, when his status was officially changed to ‘presumed dead,’” Marine Corps University reports.
Sergeant James E. Johnson, 25, was posthumously awarded the Nation’s highest decoration for his heroic lone fight on December 2, 1950. | Marine Corps University
The 25-year-old sergeant was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration. The award was presented to his widow on March 29, 1954, by Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson.
Johnson was not involved in Pearl Harbor, but after hearing his story, Hartman was inspired to do something about it.
“I thought it could be possible that there are other stories like his out there that should be preserved,” Hartman says in a news release.
Hartman is specifically looking for personal accounts from veterans or their family members about the Pearl Harbor attack.
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Those who submit a story are asked to identify themselves or the name of the person for whom they are providing. Indicate the branch of service, rank and any other identifying information.
“Tell your story in detail. Tell us where you were, why you were there, what happened, and how you felt,” Hartman says.
Photos are appreciated, but do not send original photographs in the mail without contacting the Veteran Services Office first.
All submissions will be documented and stored in the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building and may be published online or in a book.
The deadline is Nov. 18.
For questions or to make a submission, call (208) 282-4245 or email email@example.com. Documents can also be mailed to Bannock County Veteran Services at 921 South 8th Avenue, Stop 8095 in Pocatello.
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