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Pearl Harbor survivors honored at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station
On Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese torpedo bombers conducted a surprise attack on the Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. When they left, 2,403 military and civilians were dead and 12 ship were either sunk or beached.
Sixty-nine years later, a group from Pearl Harbor Survivors' Association, North Cascade Chapter 5, gathered at the Crescent Harbor Marina on the Seaplane Base for a ceremony thanking them and the other men who who were there.
Sponsored by Whidbey Island Naval Air Station which provided the setting and the hospitality, the event was attended by family, friends of Chapter 5, as well as the group's sponsor, Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129). Speakers included Capt. Thomas A Slais, Jr., Commander Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Jim Stansell of the Pearl Harbor Survivors' Association North Cascade Chapter 5.
The invocation was given by LT. Peter N. Ott, Base Chaplain.
Ott was followed by Commander Timothy Murphy, Commanding Officer, Electronic Attack Squadron 129 and then Capt. Slais, who thanked the men of Pearl Harbor and their commitment to the United States 69 years ago.
"Tom Brokaw called you the 'greatest generation' and I'd like to thank our greatest generation," Slais said. "Thank you for you commitment and resolve ... and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, we shall never forget."
Glenn Lane was one of those Capt. Slais spoke about.
In fact Lane survived having not one, but two ships he was on sink that day.
The first was the battleship USS Arizona BB-39. Lane was a radioman third-class, had the rear seat on an OS2U Kingfisher where he was a lookout and machine gunner.
"I had just finished breakfast and was going to write Christmas cards. It was about 8 a.m. when we heard explosions over on Ford Island. We thought they were a plane exploding but then we saw the planes and the meatballs. Then we got hit and we went back to the stern to get our (fire) hoses going but it didn't have any pressure then big bomb hit between Number 1 and Number 2 turrets and fire rolled back to me and I thought that was it. The flame was just rolling toward me so I put my arms up over my eyes and the next thing I remember is waking up in the water," Lane said. "The USS Nevada BB-36 was behind us and since my ship was broken in two I swam back to the gang-plank on the Nevada and we got underway by we were hit and sunk in the harbor. I got off that ship and ended up in the hospital ship because I had burns and shrapnel along my side and in my back."
Lane retired after 30 years as a Command Master Chief and lives in Sedro- Woolley.
There were seven men in a row with stories like Lane.
The Admiral at the proceeding, Rear Admiral Douglass T. Biesel, Commander Navy Region Northwest stayed talking to the seven men as long as he could, laughing with them right up until the ceremony started.
Mrs. Gayle Vyskocil read a poem dedicated to the men and women of Pearl Harbor as well as to the men and women of Korea and Vietnam and then it was time to lay the wreath which was done by Mrs. Vyskocil and Mrs. Sarah Cummings, both from the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
The wreath laid over the rail into the water, followed by carnations. Then Chaplain Ott gave a benediction, a gun salute was fired and a bugler played taps, ending the 69th anniversary of the day our greatest generation was called upon to fight our greatest war.