I have sent this to you via e-mail, but decided to post the article here as well, as it may be helpful to someone else.
Article appearing in the Watertown Daily Times, Wed. Dec. 7, 1966(Watertown, NY)
25 YEARS AGO…………
THREE MEN VIVIDLY RECALL ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR
(By Dale A. Moffett, staff writer of the times)
It has been 25 years since Dec. 7, 1941 “a date that will live in infamy,” when the Japanese 350 plane armada made their shocking assault on the United States Pacific fleet from the placid Hawaiian skies.
That early morning attack signaling the entrance of the U.S. into World War II, took the lives of nearly 2.500 men.The navy alone lost three times as many men in this single attack as it had lost in the Spanish-American war and World War I combined.
Today, Pearl Harbor has been rebuilt and modernized, a unique military nerve center of the world.Lingering reminders of that fateful Sunday morning still exist, however, in the oil slick from 18 ships sunk or damaged which is still visible on the waters of Pearl Harbor and in the memories of north country men who were there that day.
Harry M. Purcell, Philadelphia, and Leo J. Weston, 471 VanDuzee street, were there that day, serving aboard the 32,600-ton battleship U>S>S> Tennessee.Another serviceman, Paul V. Whitford, Rutland Hollow Road was with the army air force at Hickham air force base.
“When the attack came, there were only about one half of the compliment of men aboard the Tennessee, most of the men were off on weekend liberty,” said Mr. Purcell.“I was two decks down in the division office when a machinist’s mate came running down saying that the Japs were attacking.We thought he was kidding, but found out soon enough that the attack was for real,” Mr. Purcell said.
“The Tennessee, at the time of the attack, was in dry-dock in the innermost berth nearest Ford Island.In the next berth forward was the ill-fated battleship Arizona, the West Virginia being moored on the outside of the Tennessee,” Mr. Weston explained.
Mr. Purcell explained that the ships were in a bow-to-stern arrangement and that one could almost jump from ship to ship.
“A bomb hit the Arizona and started a fire which spread to the ship’s powder magazines causing a tremendous explosion which knocked us off our feet,” Mr. Purcell said.
Mr. Weston had a vivid remembrance of the explosion aboard the Arizona, noting that the impact of the explosion sent one of the ship’s 14-inch gun mounts weighing 90 tons hurling through the air, coming to rest at a point beyond the Oklahoma, two berths away from the Arizona.
Mr. Whitford, who at the time of attack was ordered to guard the entrance to Pearl Harbor, said he has some of the powder from the exploding magazine of the Arizona, and his position was approximately one-half mile from the battleship.
Mr. Whitford recalls that when he was sent to guard the harbor entrance, his group was provided with guns but no ammunition. “It was not until 10 p.m., about 15 hours later, that we finally received ammunition,” he added.
Both Mr. Purcell and Mr. Weston said the greatest damage to the Tennessee was a result of the oil slicks and exploding debris from the Arizona.Receiving two minor bomb hits, only four men of the Tennessee lost their lives.
Following the devastating attack, which lasted less than two hours, preparations were made for what everyone felt would be a return attack that night or early the next morning.The follow up attack never came, and this has been said to be one of the glaring mistakes of the Japanese in World War II.
It took five to six days for work crews to free the Tennessee from the wedge against the concrete moorings created by the sinking of the West Virginia moored alongside the Maryland in front.
The ship was brought to Bremerton, Wash., and then on to San Francisco, Calif. For repairs which required nine months.In May 1943, the ship returned to the Pacific theater and participated in several invasions to the war’s end, including Okinawa.
In looking back to that Sunday, 25 years ago, Mr. Weston recalls “it was a hard thing for those at Pearl Harbor to get used to the total devastation of the Japanese attack and the complete surprise achieved.The Japanese knew the fleet movements perfectly and the attack came at the most inopportune time for effective defense.”
Paul Whitford recalls that “everyone knew what they were supposed to do in case of an attack, and all of them did it if they had the chance.”
For many, however, there were no chances.
Today, the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, traversely spanning the sunken hull of the battle-wagon, stands as a lasting tribute to the 2,117 men who lost their lives at the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Today, Leo Weston is the owner of Weston Electric Company.He and his wife the former Miss Eva Lois Johnson, are the parents of four children. A son Jack W., is employed by his father in the electric business, having just been discharges from a four-year tour of duty in the navy.
They have three other children, James E., an electrician with the General Electric Company, Syracuse; Miss Janet Weston, Hudson Falls, and Carrie Jean, at home.
Paul Whitford and his wife Nancy, live on the Rutland Hollow Road, a short distance from Watertown.Mr. Whitford has been employed by the Hyde Improvement Company, Watertown, since 1946.The couple have two children, a son, Robert, serving with the Air Force in Florida and a daughter, Virginia.
Mr. Purcell, with his wife, Joyce, and five of their six children, live in Philadelphia.Mr. Purcell has been employed by the New York Air Brake Company for several years, previously working at the St. Regis Paper Company, Deferiet.Their children include, Mrs. Raymond LaClair 530 West Mullen Street, and Janet, Cathy, Carol, Jim and John all at home.