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Hundreds attend Pearl Harbor Memorial Service

Molly Hamilton Dec 12, 2016
Pearl Harbor survivor David "Buck" Morris, Jr. prepares to cast a wreath into Charleston Harbor in memory of those who died

Pearl Harbor survivor David “Buck” Morris, Jr. prepares to cast a wreath into Charleston Harbor

Hundreds of people — veterans, civilians, active-duty military personnel and students — came to the USS Yorktown on December 7, 2016 to remember the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II in 1941.  The event was organized by VFW Post 10624 in Mt. Pleasant, SC and the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.  This “Day of Infamy” will forever be remembered and at this event, two Pearl Harbor survivors were in attendance to recount their memories of that awful day in our nation’s history.

Pearl Harbor survivor D.L. "Don" Ralph of Manning, SC attended the memorial service

Pearl Harbor survivor D.L. “Don” Ralph of Manning, SC attended the memorial service

D.L. “Don” Ralph, of Manning, SC, enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1940 and was sent to Hawaii in October 1941 where he served in the medical department of a hospital at Hickam Field as an x-ray technician.  When the Japanese planes began their attack, he had just finished lunch and was soon tasked with driving an ambulance to transport the wounded and dead to the hospital.  He was very quick to put his role in perspective: “I appreciate your honor and all here, but I stand here very proudly for those who didn’t make it,” said Mr. Ralph during the ceremony.

The other survivor in attendance was David “Buck” Morris, Jr., who was living in Bamberg, SC in 1940 when he decided to join the U.S. Navy.  On the day of the attacks at Pearl Harbor, he was serving as a signalman on the USS Phelps, a destroyer that was at the time anchored about a quarter of a mile from the USS Arizona and nearby Ford Island.  He was just waking up after serving a shift overnight and quickly returned to his ship to man his battle station.  He shared with the crowd in attendance his most vivid memories, including how woefully the U.S. was for the attack.  Mr. Morris said: “We didn’t have the squadron commander aboard, he was ashore.  We didn’t have the captain aboard, he was ashore.  Half of the officers were ashore.  Half of the enlisted men were ashore.  That’s the way we got underway at Pearl Harbor that morning.”

The special guest speaker for the event was Captain Scott Heller, Commanding Officer of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic.  He was followed by Professor Larry Grant of The Citadel, who provided a history of the events leading up the attack of Pearl Harbor and World War II.

As has been tradition in previous ceremonies, the names of each of the 25 South Carolinians who were known to have died during the attacks were read as a bell was tolled for each of them.  Following this remembrance, members of the audience cast wreaths into the Charleston Harbor in memory of the more than 2,400 Americans who were killed during the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago.

The event closed with a traditional gun salute and the playing of “Taps.

A gallery of photos from the event is below (click on any images to see them enlarged):

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