Veterans Anthony Nady and James Stansell salute the flag. They were honored at a Veterans Day ceremony for their service during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Oak Harbor Veterans Day ceremony honors Pearl Harbor survivors

Five veterans told the stories of their life-changing experiences at the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway during a Veterans Day ceremony yesterday.

Five veterans told the stories of their life-changing experiences at the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway during a Veterans Day ceremony yesterday.

The Oak Harbor High School Performing Arts Center was full of veterans, their families and community members. The Oak Harbor Area Council, Navy League of the United States presented the ceremony. This year’s theme was honoring Pearl Harbor survivors.

“I am so proud,” said veteran Cecil Calavan about his military service in a video tribute to Pearl Harbor veterans. “I just feel God gave me a blessing to serve in the U.S. Navy.”

The reason Calavan said he survived the attack was because he was shaving. He was on the USS Utah in Pearl Harbor and had gone aft to shave when the first torpedo struck the compartment he’d just been in. As he watched the second torpedo head toward the ship, he didn’t understand what was going on and thought it was a mistake.

Calavan ended up swimming for shore and lay in a ditch with others as shrapnel rained from the sky.

“Being young was an advantage for me that day because I didn’t realize how much danger I was in,” Calavan said in the video.

Also honored in the video was veteran James Stansell, who was 18 at the time of the attack.

“I was scared half to death but I did manage to look everywhere, and everywhere there was an explosion,” Stansell said in the video.

Harold Johnson was 17 years old and eagerly awaiting a date with a young lady later that day when told to man his battle station on the USS Oklahoma.

“To me, the worst part of the day was the rest of the day and night,” Johnson said, describing a day spent hauling oil-covered men into boats, responding to a multitude of false alarms and curling up in the mess hall to try to sleep. “All you could do was think: what’s the future?”

At the ceremony, musical performances by the Daybreak Trio, the Oak Harbor High School Harbor Singers, the Chancel Choir of the First United Methodist Church and the All-Island Community Band honored the veterans, those still serving and their families.

“Your contributions to the greatness of America cannot be repaid,” said Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik, a Marine Corps veteran.

As the Chancel Choir sang a medley of the songs of each branch of the military, veterans stood for their branch’s song, saluting and putting their hands over their hearts.

The five veterans featured in the video ceremonially handed their watch to the NJROTC Wildcat Battalion of Oak Harbor High School, letting the next generation take over.

Looking back on his and others’ military service, Calavan said that the generation of Pearl Harbor survivors was a great generation.

There was a moment of silence to honor departed veterans, followed by a soulful rendition of “Eternal Father Strong to Save” by the Harbor Singers.

“I simply say from the bottom of our collective hearts, thank you, veterans. Job well done,” Slowik said.

 

More in News

Libertarian to participate in debate

Libertarian Brian Luke has filed to get on the ballot for Washington… Continue reading

Volunteers from NAS Whidbey clean up Ebey’s bluff trail

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island participated in the Armed Forces Day Volunteer… Continue reading

Meltdown at Goose Community Grocer

Fridge failure leads to ‘heartbreaking’ food dump

Skagit Valley College honor roll

Skagit Valley College announced academic honor roll for winter quarter. Local students… Continue reading

Coupeville Couple’s Curiosity Saves a Barn

Marshall English recalls the rainy spring day when curiosity led him and… Continue reading

Photos provided
                                Broad View Elementary School student Layla Williams plants vegetables in the school’s garden. Broad View was recently recognized nationally for its environmental and sustainability efforts.
School recognized for being green

Ongoing sustainability efforts at Broad View Elementary started a decade ago as… Continue reading

Prosecutor declines to charge Langley police chief with crime

The Island County prosecutor won’t charge Langley Police Chief David Marks with… Continue reading

Two kayakers rescued under Deception Pass Bridge

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Fire and Washington State Parks responded Wednesday… Continue reading

Whidbey Nonprofit Gifts Funds to Local Volunteer Organizations and Lighthouses

The Lighthouse Environmental Programs, or LEP, nonprofit group of Whidbey continues to… Continue reading

Most Read