3 thoughts on “Pearl Harbor Today

  1. John N. Englesby says:

    Bob — Thanks for posting about your trip to HI! I’m a little late getting back about your recent post with such great pictures of the Pearl Harbor Memorial, but I wanted to tell you, as well as any others reading, about my connection to PH through my dad, P. N. K. (Philo Nelson Kelley) Englesby, of Mondovi, and later, Augusta, WI. I’ve never been to HI, but I plan to get there someday, and the main interest for me will be seeing PH, as my dad was there on Sunday, 12/7/1941. He never did talk about it much, but this is what I remember him telling me when he would talk and what I learned from his personnel file I got a few years ago from the National Archives: He was serving on shore from about ten days before the attack with essentially a MASH-type (like on TV, he often said) navy hospital, one of the first that any branch of the military had started, the Naval Mobile Hospital No. 2. During and after the attack, they did all they could for the wounded, dead, and dying, even though the hospital was not yet fully set up. He was a pharmacist’s mate, a hospital medical corpsman. Just ten days before the attack, he had been transferred ashore to that unit from the USS West Virginia, which was sunk with terrible loss of life. (Later, they raised and repaired it and returned it to the war, and at the Japanese surrender, it was in Tokyo Harbor.) They tried to raise the Arizona, too, and recover the bodies, and my dad was part of that effort as a medical sailor, going onto and into the ship to recover bodies. He described that as one of the worst experiences of his service and his life. The bodies were so decayed and fragile that they came apart readily in pieces. He said he’d never forget the smell of death. The military and US Government decided in the end that they couldn’t continue with that horrific recovery effort, so they left the Arizona on the harbor bottom and made it a war grave and the memorial it still is today… Dad later went into the Silent Service, submarines, training at PH and making many war voyages from there and then returning there also for rest and refitting of the boats. He eventually became a Chief, Pharmacist’s Mate, meaning he was the ‘doc’ on his subs (that’s what all submariners called the medical chiefs on their boats), totally responsible for the health of the 70 or so men aboard… There, that’s my piece on Pearl Harbor and what it means to me. Dad had other stories about it, but this is the main message I wanted to get out. Bob, your photos here are some of the best I’ve ever seen; thanks again. The 76th anniversary of this history making military catastrophe is just coming up now, too. John Englesby, Madison, WI

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    1. Dear John, it was a pleasure to read your own family history related to this. It puts all of what we saw in better context. You must see the Memorial, as it is powerful experience.

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