For some reason, I NEVER forget when the Seventh Day of December comes around each year.
December 7, 1941 sticks to my memory like glue.
I may not know what the date is on any other given day of the year, but I sure know when it is December 7th.
I had not yet even been born, but my Father had been 24 years earlier and was about to get the ultimate education of his life.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor came not only the deaths of the thousands which lost their lives on that fateful day in the Harbor, but the start of a war which would virtually never end and cost many more thousands of Servicemen to lose their lives in Countries all over the world of which many had never even heard of until they ended up in boats on the shores of those countries.
On October 10, 1941 Kenneth E. Hardesty was inducted into the Army where he served as a PFC in the 389th Air Service Squadron until January 2, 1946. He was my Father.
Published: December 6, 2012
By Jim Warren — firstname.lastname@example.org
Traveling isn’t easy when you’re in your 90s, but some survivors of Pearl Harbor say they will gather in Lexington once more on Friday to mark the 71st anniversary of the attack that drew America into World War II.
Vaughn Drake of Lexington and Jon Toy of Mount Sterling, both 94, said they’ll attend the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Association’s annual Pearl Harbor Day luncheon Friday, and they expect that fellow survivor Herman Horn, 92, of Frankfort will be there too.
Friday’s luncheon will include ceremonies to honor Pearl Harbor survivors and others who served during World War II.
The keynote speaker will be historian Thomas R. Emerson, a former assistant Kentucky attorney general.
Gov. Steve Beshear has issued a proclamation designating Dec. 7, 2012, as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Kentucky.
The commemorative buffet luncheon in Lexington will be held at noon Friday at the Oleika Shrine Temple, 326 Southland Drive.
Drake, Horn and Toy were young men when Japanese planes swooped down over Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, on the fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Now, they are among a dwindling few witnesses of that history-making moment who are alive to tell younger generations about it.
Drake said he apparently is the last Pearl Harbor survivor living in Lexington.
Toy, who heads the Kentucky Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, said there are only 10 survivors on the chapter’s membership list. There were 15 a year ago.
“There are a few others still out there that we don’t know about because they never joined the chapter,” Toy said. “But a lot of us have gone. We’re becoming part of history.”
Toy said the chapter once had more than 150 members. Chapter members continue to meet each year in the spring and fall, but it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to travel, he said.
The national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded on Dec. 31, 2011, after the 70th Pearl Harbor anniversary observance. Association officials said members simply were too old and too few to continue. Local chapters, such as the one in Kentucky, are free to carry on as long as they have members, but without the support of a national organization.
Eventually, Toy said, it will be up to the sons and daughters of survivors to carry on.
Vaughn Drake was a U.S. Army engineer at a camp on Oahu when the Japanese attacked 71 years ago Friday. One enemy plane, hit by gunfire, crashed near where Drake was standing, and he later recovered a small piece of the wreckage, which he still has.
“We couldn’t believe it, even though it was happening right in front of our eyes,” Drake said in a 1991 interview.
Horn and some other soldiers jumped into a truck that morning and headed for a distant anti-aircraft battery, planning to use its gun against the attacking planes. On the way, they had to stop repeatedly and take cover when Japanese fighters strafed them.
“We didn’t fire one shot. … We were very, very lucky,” Horn said in an interview a few years ago.
Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.