Archive for December 6th, 2010

December 6, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day: Survivor S.J. Hemker, USN, Remembering A Day That Should Live In Infamy

by lewwaters

USS New Orleans

By Rees Lloyd

As the nation remembers the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, “a day that will live in infamy,” as President Franklyn D. Roosevelt memorably called it in his dramatic speech declaring war on Japan, S. J. Hemker, U.S. Navy Veteran, American Legionnaire, and Pearl Harbor survivor, remembers it in a much more up close and personal way:

Ordinarily, we would have been at sea, we were at Pearl Harbor because we had to repair an engine that had been sabotaged at the shipyard back in California. I was up on the fantail of our ship, the USS New Orleans, a heavy cruiser, with the Chief Master at Arms. The Quartermaster was there, getting ready to raise the flag,” Hemker recalls.

“It was 7:55 a.m. when we saw the Japanese planes. They were flying so low I could see the pilots faces in the cockpit. They were grinning at us as they went down toward Battle Ship Row. Grinning at me and the Chief. They were so close, you could have thrown something at them and hit them. A potato, maybe. They were that close. Just skimming the top of the water. Torpedo planes. The pilots grinning at us,” Hemker reluctantly, but vividly recalls.

The loudspeakers blared: ‘Man your battle stations – the Japs are attacking.’ All hell broke loose. It was terrible, horrible, …,” he says, pausing in his remembrance.

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