Naval Station Everett Remembers Pearl Harbor

Story Number: NNS131207-05Release Date: 12/7/2013 6:09:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Everett

EVERETT, Wash. - (NNS) -- Sailors and DoD civilians remembered those who fought and died during the attack on Pearl Harbor with a ceremony in the Grand Vista Ballroom on Naval Station Everett (NSE), Dec. 6.

The ceremony, marking the 72nd anniversary of the historic attack, included a moment of silence, a wreath-laying, guest speakers and a "walk of honor" for attending veterans.

"Freedom has a price, and each generation pays its dues. Today, we remember those who paid the ultimate price on that Sunday morning 72 years ago," said Capt. James Duke, Naval Station Everett commanding officer. "World War II American veterans were heroes who fought, suffered and died to free the world from the pith black night of war and oppression ... let us take strength from their example, and wisdom from their history."

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy unleashed a surprise attack from the air over the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The bombing ignited war between the U.S. and Japan, and brought America into World War II.

The attack seriously damaged the strength of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, with 18 American ships being sunk or run aground, five of them battleships, and 2,403 Americans perished during the attack.

Emily Soals, daughter of a Pearl Harbor Survivor, was one of the guest speakers at the event. Her father, Woodrow Wilson Soals, was assigned to the battleship USS Maryland (BB 46) on the morning of December 7. Soals read from her father's account of that day during the ceremony.

Soals' father and some shipmates were returning from liberty when the attack started.

"'As we got close to the bay, we saw the first wave of planes dropping bombs," said Soals, reading from her father's account. "'My shipmates and I grabbed the first launch boat we could find, getting to the ship as fast as we could.

"'I started climbing up the nets on the side of the ship," she said from her father's account. "I was halfway up when a bomb hit one of the ships, a piece of shrapnel missing me by only a foot. The shock knocked me into the water ... I swam back to the ship, climbed the nets again, manned my battle station, and continued to fight the fight.'"

Soals said that her father later retrieved the piece of shrapnel, which remains in her family to this day.

Two armor piercing bombs hit the Maryland during the attack. The ship returned to service in 1942.

"Today I salute my dad and all World War II veterans who fought to keep our country safe," said Soals.

Dozens of military veterans attended the event, including several World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors.

"The first experience was not shock, it was surprise," said Ervin Schmidt, a Pearl Harbor survivor who attended the event. "I was surprised like you wouldn't believe."

Schmidt was on board the battleship USS California (BB 44) during the attack. He manned a .50 cal. anti-aircraft gun and fired at the attacking Japanese aircraft.

When asked what encouraged him that day Schmidt said, "The flag was still flying. We were going to recover it real quick, once they stopped shooting at us ... it was quite a day."

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