Guest Columnist

Remembering Pearl Harbor

An aerial view of
An aerial view of "Battleship Row" at Pearl Harbor, photographed from a Japanese aircraft, beside Ford Island, during the early part of the horizontal bombing attack on the ships moored on December 7, 1941. Ships seen are (L-R): USS Nevada; USS Arizona with USS Vestal moored outboard; USS Tennessee with USS West Virginia moored outboard; USS Maryland with USS Oklahoma moored outboard; and USS Neosho, only partially visible at the extreme right. A bomb had just hit Arizona near the stern, but she has not yet received the bomb that detonated her forward magazines. West Virginia and Oklahoma are gushing oil from their many torpedo hits and are listing to port. Oklahoma's port deck edge is already under water. Nevada has also been torpedoed. REUTERS/Official U.S. Navy photograph/U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - GM1E7C611VN01

Seaman Second Class Ray Harrison Myers is coming home. He was killed on the battleship USS Oklahoma during the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Modern methods have identified his remains and Myers will be buried with his family at the Blodgett Cemetery in Central City on Saturday.

Tied up inboard of the Oklahoma was the USS Maryland. My father, Lt j.g. David A. Marks, an Annapolis grad of 1940, was a junior officer on the ‘Mary’ that terrible morning. I recently discovered his account of the Pearl Harbor attack in the archives of the Nimitz Library at the Naval Academy.

“I was shaving in my stateroom when GQ (general quarters) sounded. My first thought was “This is a helluva time to hold a drill!” As I dressed I smelled the ether of exploding gunpowder and realized it was no drill.

“I was on the ladder from the Main to the AA deck en route to my GQ station of Spot 1 atop the foremast when the word was passed over the loudspeaker system: “ALL HANDS NOT ASSIGNED TO THE AA BATTERY LAY BELOW DECKS!”

“This announcement saved my life since when in midafternoon I went aloft to Spot 1 to inspect for damage I found the entire area of Spot 1 riddled with .30 & .50 caliber bullets. My guess is that these bullets came from our own guns as the shooting was extremely wild throughout the morning.

“Hearing the announcement I headed to my regular duty station in Radio Central deep inside the ship. I was relieved about 1300 and went up to the Main deck. This was my first sight of the devastation done by the attack. I viewed the keel of the Oklahoma, and watched the rescue teams tap the bottom plates for responses; watched the torches cut holes in the plates, and some Oklahoma sailors crawl through the openings. No sight has touched my heart deeper than this one.”

Sadly, Ray Myers was not one of the sailors rescued that morning. A barrage of specially equipped Japanese torpedoes had ripped open the side of his ship. As Oklahoma quickly filled with water and listed to port, the forward powder magazines of the nearby USS Arizona exploded in a cruel mass of flame. All told, 1,100 of her men died, and 429 died on the Oklahoma.

I will be there to honor Ray Myers on Saturday.

• Christopher Marks lives in Amana.

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