1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.

1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.
A view through the wheel. The black, horizontal line is the axle, the single largest forging to that time.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day


Yet another date commemorating a "surprise" attack that we were actually expecting.
To be fair, what we were thinking would happen was that Clark Field in the Philippines would be bombed. Nobody said anything about destroying a fleet at anchor.
'Course, had people been paying attention, someone may have pointed out that the Japanese did the exact same thing to start the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.
No! The Port Authur attack was different. Way different. They used destroyers and torpedo boats to knock the shit out of the Russian fleet... at anchor.
See, the question is like apples and... some other kind of apples.
And, since a pompous, morbidly obese ass - who also happens to be a doctor of history - recently alluded to America's besting of "...Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan... in just 3 years and 8 months" - that would of course be the - salamander, good ole' Newt (The pastry who would be King) - I'd like to bring two facts to your attention:
On 12/7/41; China had been at war with Japan for four and a half years, the Poles and Britain (Canada, New Zealand and Australia included) for two years.
Plus, after Pearl Harbor, although we did kick serious butt in the Pacific at Coral Sea and Midway, our ground war didn't start 'till August, '42 at Guadalcanal.
Just chipping away at the old "American Exceptionalism" canard (Unless you mean "exceptionally egocentric").
Okay, enough reality regarding the country we love.
This AM, Harry Morgan died (At 96 so - as the Brits would say: "He had a good innings").
Bill Gannon, yin to Jack Webb's yang - everyone's favorite CO, Colonel Sherman Potter and Marshall Tibedeaux in "The Shootist".

That's him on the right... the one who's not John Wayne.
This date is also the sixty-seventh aniversary of the sinking of the tin-can, USS Ward.
The first in a wartime, accelerated building program, Mare Island, CA - summer, 1918.
She's also famous for something else that happened on this date.
I prattled about it a year ago last February.
Here's my ravings, complete.
"I'm a lazy man"
Krusty the Clown.
There she is, "Liberty Destroyer # 139, still in utero.
We won't contemplate the abuses that a term like "Liberty Destroyer" would undergo in the present lexicon. It would be a good screen name for someone though, someone like Obama!
The Baby, later christened "USS Ward DD-139" was notable for two reasons.
First, she was the first ship constructed in an accelerated, wartime program at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California.
Secondly, as the baby announcement above states (I'll leave that analogy now), she was built in record time; 17 1/2 days from laying the keel to launching. May 15, to June 1. July 18, 1918, she was commissioned. Eight weeks from "a ship on paper" to one that's floating in the ocean flying the ensign. Not bad.
Now, a photo album:
































She's the one in the middle.
Fast forward to 1941.
Below, the gun and crew that fired the first, American shots of the Second World War.

"A Shot for Posterity -- The USS Ward's number three gun and its crew-cited for firing the first shot the day of Japan's raid on Hawaii. Operating as part of the inshore patrol early in the morning of December 7, 1941, this destroyer group spotted a submarine outside Pearl Harbor, opened fire and sank her. Crew members are R.H. Knapp - BM2c - Gun Captain, C.W. Fenton - Sea1c - Pointer, R.B. Nolde - Sea1c - Trainer, A.A. De Demagall - Sea1c - No. 1 Loader, D.W. Gruening - Sea1c - No. 2 Loader, J.A. Paick - Sea1c - No. 3 Loader, H.P. Flanagan - Sea1c - No. 4 Loader, E.J. Bakret - GM3c - Gunners Mate, K.C.J. Lasch - Cox - Sightsetter." (quoted from the original 1942-vintage caption)
This gun is a 4"/50 type, mounted atop the ship's midships deckhouse, starboard side.


















And, a photo of the same gun, displayed at the Minnesota State Capitol (The Ward was crewed largely with men from the Minnesota Naval Reserve).


















Time marched on for the little ship that could.
Photo below, a representative bunch of the enlisted, ship's force displaying her "scoreboard".


















The photo's caption at the LOC:

"Crewmen pose with their ship's battle "scoreboard", soon after the Biak Invasion, circa June 1944. Nearly all of these men had served in Ward since the beginning of the War, and were present when she sank a Japanese midget submarine just outside Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December 1941.
The original caption, released by Commander Seventh Fleet on 4 August 1944, reads: "Sansapor, Dutch New Guinea, falls to the Allied Forces, July 30, 1944. One might almost say - Sansapor falls to the boys from St. Paul, Minn. - as all but two of these men come from that city and the entire group has shipped together since Pearl Harbor, with the actions and results shown on their banner. As a matter of fact, they are believed to have fired the first offensive shot of the war in the Pacific, while on patrol against Japanese subs. They are L/R: (bottom row) J.L. Spratt, MM2/c; A.J. Fink, CM2/c; O.S. Ethier, MM1/c; C.W. Fenton, BM1/c; D.R. Pepin, SM1/c; J.G. LeClair; SOM2/c; F.V. Huges, SOM2/c. (Top Row) R.B. Nolde, SF1c; W.G. Grip, BM2c; H.F. Germarin, S1c; H.J. Harris, MM1c; H.K. Paynter, CMoMM; J.K. Lovsted, CMMM; W.H. Duval, CCS, (of San Diego); I.E. Holley, CSK (of Los Angeles); W.S. Lehner, SC1c; F.J. Bukrey, CM1c; and F.L. Fratta, MM1c."


Alas, everything comes to an end.
USS Ward was sunk by a Kamikaze attack near Leyte in the Phillippines, three years to the day after her moment of glory at Pearl Harbor.















So's we're not bummed out, here's a great picture of some soldiers chowing down on deck.
Ultimate coolness; riveted deck plates.

2 comments:

Jimh. said...

I always enjoy your posts. I spent half of class time yesterday explaining to my students why the attack on Pearl was significant, not just to the nation, but the Northwest...and correcting the view that it began WWII, they never seem to grasp it was going on before we went in!

Andy said...

Now that's a post!

Locations of visitors to this page