A crowd of more than seventy five people stopped by the Moffett Field Historical Museum, Wednesday, December 7, 2011, for a reception and art exhibit in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Among those present, were five special guests who on that day were young men in uniform serving on ships and at bases around that famous anchorage.
Warren Upton, 93, enjoyed the camaraderie at the Moffett Museum's Pearl Harbor Day event.
Warren Upton was a 23-year-old radioman aboard the USS Utah. As the first torpedo hit his ship, he and all but one in his group scrambled up a ladder to safety. When the Utah sank eleven minutes later she took 54 of his comrades with her.
Ted Ivey, aged 90. The photo is by artist John Deckert.
His friend, Ted Ivey, was an Army gunner at Schofield Barracks that morning, on Waikiki Beach. The two men have been longtime members of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. They were among those who voted to donate their flag to the Moffett Museum this year when the chapter shut down--due to dwindling membership.
The art exhibit at the Moffett Museum was part of the event honoring Pearl Harbor Day. Photo by Anna Jacke.
Veterans of World War II and other American conflicts, active duty military, family members, and artists who were exhibiting their paintings of Moffett's iconic Hangar One, all mingled at the reception. Almost everyone stopped to thank the Pearl Harbor survivors.
Charles Merdinger (Captain, USN ret.), 93, was on the USS Nevada on December 7, 1941. Gunners on the ship shot down four Japanese planes, but the Nevada was badly damaged by at least five bombs. Sixty men were killed that day on the Nevada, and 109 were wounded.
Korean War veteran Joseph Cusick had a special reason to stop by. He donated his Navy flight suit to the museum awhile back, and learned that artist John Deckert had turned it into a painting.
Joseph Cusick, Commander (USN ret.) poses with his fifty-year-old flight suit and with artist John Deckert. Cusick came to honor Pearl Harbor Day, and Deckert came to meet Cusick, whose flight suit he had painted.
John Decker's painting of Cusick's flight suit.
"What do you think about your flight suit now?" asked Herb Parsons, president of the Moffett Field Historical Society.
"That fellow was pretty slim," Commander Cusick said with a wry smile, to much laughter.
Seventy years had turned a day of tragedy and sorrow into a day in which a nation honored these awe inspiring veterans. So many had sacrificed so much--and America and the richness of its liberty, the breadth of its diversity, the wonder of its many freedoms remained secure.
This has been their legacy.
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Diana Jaye's painting of Moffett Field's Shenandoah Plaza.
One personal note: in the middle of the event, a young man with a military bearing approached me and asked how he might go about buying one of the paintings on exhibit. I told him I was happy to help. And he walked me over to one of my favorite paintings in the show--by artist Diana Jaye.
"How did you know about our reception today?" I asked him.
"Oh, I read about it in the paper," he said. "I'm a reservist with the 351st Civil Affairs Command in Mountain View."
He must have been surprised when he saw me stop and catch my breath. My father was one of the founding officers of the 351st. When he retired from the unit as a full colonel, he served as the group's alumnae president for many years.
It was an emotional reminder of why I was a volunteer, at that event, on that day, in that place my father loved. As the tall young officer walked away--for just a moment, I felt my father there with me once more. He really would have enjoyed himself. He always loved a reception where there were lots of free cookies for him to eat.
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