Survivors of Pearl Harbor to gather

Commemoration to be held inside at Vancouver Barracks

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



If you go

• What: Vancouver-Portland Pearl Harbor commemoration

• When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday

• Where: E.B. Hamilton Hall, 605 Barnes Road, West Barracks

Sixty-nine years ago, they were young sailors, soldiers and Marines enjoying a weekend morning in a Hawaiian paradise.

The next moment, they were fighting for their lives as that paradise exploded all around them — and in some cases, blew up under their feet.

Those men lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor, which pushed this nation into World War II, and they survived more than 3½ years of combat that followed.

On Tuesday morning, a dozen or so those Pearl Harbor survivors will gather to honor the memories of those who died on Dec. 7, 1941.

This year’s commemorative event will be held on the grounds of the Vancouver Barracks, in the E.B. Hamilton Hall at 605 Barnes Road, south of the O.O. Howard House.

Vancouver’s most recent Pearl Harbor commemorations have been held along the Columbia River.

“We moved it because we wanted to be inside,” said Penny Ross, secretary of the Vancouver Pearl Harbor Association.

The Barracks campus is a suitably historic setting, and the restored Red Cross building — which hosted events for military personnel almost a century ago — is an appropriate site for Tuesday’s observance.

“We have 13 members at our meetings,” said Ross. “It’s the biggest chapter in the state that meets every month.”

Not all the members of the Vancouver survivors’ group will be at the Barracks commemoration event, however. A few local veterans will be in Hawaii for Tuesday’s observance at Pearl Harbor, Ross said.

The Vancouver woman is the daughter of a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Her father, Donald Ross, was a machinist on the USS Nevada. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in getting the Nevada under power so the damaged battleship didn’t block the harbor entrance.

The Vancouver organization is welcoming members of the Portland Pearl Harbor Survivors Association for a joint observance.

The event is free and open to the public.

L.M. Patella, a retired U.S. Navy commander who will serve as master of ceremonies, said current and former military personnel planning to attend are asked to wear their uniforms.