Today is the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the signal events of World War II if not the last century.
The following images were taken several years ago and are a token tribute to my cousin, Lt. Commander Bruce Reck. After the war a dedicated Scoutmaster and one heck of a nice guy. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned of his military service.
During World War II Bruce served on the USS Vega, the USS Wichita, the USS Wasp, the USS Axulite, the USS Kingfisher and the USS Enterprise. Stationed in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, he took part as a diver in rescue and salvage operations in the aftermath of the attack. During the course of his naval service he received 14 medals including the Bronze Star and the Medal of Commendation for Valor. He died in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1995. Ave Atque Vale!!
The US National Parks Service allows those who survived the raid to have their ashes taken down to be buried alongside the remains of their former shipmates within the Arizona’s sunken hull.
Like a proud, indomitable warrior, one lone gunless turret stands guard over the remains of its sunken mother ship which still oozes a couple of gallons of oil daily, like some gigantic wounded beast that hasn’t entirely bled out.
Three men, Ronald Endicott (18), Clifford Olds (20) and Louis Costin (21) on board the West Virginia at the time of the attack, survived for 16 days, desperately banging on the ship’s sunken hull for a rescue which never came. Men on the surface did their utmost to avoid guard duty on the crippled ship so as not to hear the constant, macabre noise. There was nothing anyone could do. Cut a hole and risk flooding the compartment or use a torch and cause an explosion. Gradually the banging became less loud, less insistent. Then eventually it stopped. Six months later when the ship was finally surfaced, their remains were gathered and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in the volcanic crater the locals call the Punchbowl, where the majority of the Pearl Harbor victims were buried. The date on their tombstones was backdated to December 7 to jive with the official navy story that the men had died at their battle stations so as to save the their families from the searing pain of the awful truth.
In Louis Costin’s locker they retrieved a watch which was destined to be a Christmas gift for his mother. Broken and waterlogged it was eventually sent home, where his mother had it repaired and wore it daily until her death in 1985 at the age of 92, thankfully never knowing the true story of her son’s gruesome, lingering death.
Like William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell!”