Local gatherings to salute Pearl Harbor’s heroes

Sons and daughters of survivors form group to keep story, lessons alive

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: Pearl Harbor commemoration (open to the public).

When: 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Where: Centennial Center, Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at The Quay, 100 Columbia St.

Plus: Pearl Harbor exhibit at Veterans Museum (see story).

After 70 years, a few Clark County veterans still have vivid memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They will gather Wednesday to share those memories — and, more importantly, to salute fellow sailors, soldiers and Marines who didn’t survive Dec. 7, 1941.

The memorial event will be at 10 a.m. in the Centennial Center at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at The Quay, 100 Columbia St.

The 70th anniversary commemoration is open to the public.

This year, another observance joins the local Dec. 7 schedule. A display in Vancouver’s Veterans Museum will highlight local people with connections to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The museum is on the Vancouver Veterans Affairs campus, northwest of the county’s Center for Community Health.

Time for transition

Wednesday’s program at the Red Lion’s Centennial Center will feature U.S. Navy veteran Ralph Laedtke, who was a crewman on a hospital ship when Japanese warplanes and submarines attacked Pearl Harbor.

Members of the Vancouver chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will be joined by members of the Portland-area chapter.

This year’s event also marks a transition, said Penny Ross, one of the organizers. Her late father was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the attack. Now, Ross said, it’s time for the children of those veterans to make sure the story of Pearl Harbor stays alive.

As Pearl Harbor veterans fade away, local groups have the option of picking up the torch, Ross said. “But they can’t function as a Pearl Harbor Survivors Association,” she said.

So, a Northwest association of sons and daughters of Pearl Harbor survivors is sponsoring this and future Dec. 7 events.

“The idea is to perpetuate the lessons of Pearl Harbor, do more education, keep America alert,” Ross said.

The ceremony will be capped when a floral tribute is cast into the Columbia River.

Ross also is participating in the Pearl Harbor exhibit at the Veterans Museum. She loaned the ribbon from the Medal of Honor awarded to her father for his actions on the battleship USS Nevada.

The display also includes a watch recovered from the wreckage of the battleship USS West Virginia. A Navy salvage crew recovered the watch and returned it to the owner, who survived World War II.

Images include photographs of Clark County residents who survived Pearl Harbor, with information about where they were when the attack occurred. There also is a captured photograph taken from one of the lead Japanese attack aircraft just moments before the attack.

The Veterans Museum is in Building 1819, on the VA campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd.; it is next to a “Huey” helicopter that is part of a Vietnam veterans memorial. The display is open on Pearl Harbor Day from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Pearl Harbor exhibit will be on display through December. Normal museum hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays; noon to 4 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 360-737-1441 for information.