Shortly before 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941 – a sleepy Sunday morning – about 350 Japanese fighter planes swarmed over the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
When the smoke cleared 75 years ago on Wednesday, 2,403 U.S. military personnel and civilians lay dead, and the Pacific fleet smoldered in ruins. Nearby Army installations also were struck and scores of U.S. aircraft were damaged or destroyed.
The attack shocked the American public, who had been focused on the ongoing war in Europe. Many people had never even heard of Pearl Harbor before that day.
The following morning, Dec. 8, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war. It passed by a vote of 82-0 in the U.S. Senate and 388-1 in the U.S. House.
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Twenty-five South Carolinians lost their lives in the attack, including Jack H. Williams of Columbia. And three months later, a group of intrepid airmen led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle volunteered at Columbia Army Air Base to strike back at the Japanese Empire for the sneak attack.
Flying 16 B-25 medium range bombers launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet – a first in war – the men struck Tokyo and other Japanese cites, stunning Japanese military leaders, who thought the country’s mainland was unreachable by American forces.
Today at 11 a.m. on the deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown, docked at Patriot’s Point in Charleston Harbor, a memorial service and commemoration will be held, hosted by Mount Pleasant’s VFW Post 10624. The event is free.
In the past, the ceremony has featured several Pearl Harbor survivors. Two years ago there were six. Last year there were three. This year there will be one, 94-year-old Buck Morris, a Charleston native.
Morris was a 19-year-old sailor on the destroyer USS Phelps during the attack. He had joined the Navy the January before the attack “to see the world,” he told The State newspaper on Tuesday.
He would go on to spend the next five years, two months and 10 days serving in the South Pacific, except for a short training stint in Chicago.
“We’re few and far between now,” he said of the remaining survivors. “I’m one of the lucky ones.”
Here is a list of South Carolinians killed in the attack, provided by Patriot’s Point. Some were listed as South Carolina natives living elsewhere on Dec. 7, 1941:
▪ Ardrey V. Hasty, York
▪ Earl A. Hood, Dillon
▪ Thomas E. Aldridge, South Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.
▪ Rudolph P. Bielka, South Carolina native, Tacoma, Wash.
▪ Samuel J. Bush, Beaufort
▪ Hubert P. Clement, Inman
▪ Carl D. Dorr, Greenville
▪ Benjamin E. Gilliard, Charleston
▪ Daniel F. Harris, South Carolina native, California
▪ Eric T. Kampmeyer, Meggett
▪ Henry L. Lee, Conway
▪ Wayne A. Lewis, Arcadia
▪ Luther K. McBee, Greenville
▪ Frazier Mayfield, Leeds
▪ John M. Mears, Greenville
▪ Clyde C. Moore, South Carolina native, North Carolina
▪ Douglas C. Moore, Anderson
▪ James C. Moore, Anderson
▪ James G. Nations, Pickens
▪ Cecil J. Pickens, Pickens
▪ Amsil K. Simpson, Abbeville
▪ Milton R. Surratt, Laurens
▪ Broadus F. West, Simpsonville
▪ Vernon R. White, Spartanburg
▪ Jack H. Williams, Columbia
If you’re going
What: 75th Pearl Harbor Memorial Day Ceremony
Where: Deck of the USS Yorktown, Patriot’s Point, Mount Pleasant
When: 11 a.m.