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Hamburg remembers Pearl Harbor

WELCOME VETERANS — Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 517 presented a flag to the Hamburg Town Hall on Dec. 6, during a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony. Pictured are post members Marty Moot, Dan Kilichowski, Mel Bradfuchrer, Pat Meegan, Frank Heigl and Tom Magdziak; Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters; Hamburg Town Mayor Tom Moses; Hamburg Town Clerk Cathy Rybczynski; Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and Erie County Legislator Lynn Dixon. Photo by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — Franklin D. Roosevelt named Dec. 7 a “date that would live in infamy.” Pearl Harbor, in Oahu, Hawaii, was attacked on this day in 1941, sparking the United States’ involvement in World War II. This year marked that attack’s 72nd anniversary.

The base’s official website, www.pearlharboroahu.com, explained the full history of what happened, leading up to the attack and its aftermath.

Japan was on an empirical conquest. At the time, the U.S. was under command of Lt. Gen. Walter Short. The country told the Japanese to cease their aggressiveness toward China and Indonesia; Japan did not stop.

The U.S. had less ammunition and troops at its disposal than did Japan, at the time. According to the Pearl Harbor website, “The Japanese Army had a force of 2,400,000 trained ground troops and an air fleet of 7,500 planes. The U.S. had a force of 1,500,000, of which 1,000,000 were not completely trained; 1,157 combat aircrafts and 347 war ships.”

The Hawaii base had received a report about the attacks, on Oct. 16; that warning was ignored. According to the site, the U.S. Navy and Army commanders “saw no need for Hawaii to be ready for a large-scale attack.”

On the morning of Dec. 7, a final, last-minute warning was sent, but Short received the message too late. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:45 a.m. and came in two waves. The harbor was destroyed. “In less than two hours, the Japanese had ruined the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s battleship force, ensuring the U.S. would not interfere with further plans for conquest,” the website noted.

An article titled “Japan Wars on U.S. and Britain; Makes Sudden Attack On Hawaii; Heavy Fighting At Sea Reported,” by Frank Kluckhohn, was published in The New York Times on Dec. 8, 1941. This article indicated that the U.S. had received no warning about the attack, a statement that was later debunked.

“Reports from Hawaii indicated that Honolulu had no warning of the attack. Japanese bombers, with the red circle of the Rising Sun of Japan on their wings, suddenly appeared, escorting by fighters,” Kluckhohn said. “Flying high, they suddenly dive-bombed, attacking Pearl Harbor, the great Navy base, the Army’s Hickam Field and Ford Island. At least one torpedo plane was seen to launch a torpedo at warships, in Pearl Harbor.”

Activities, tours and memorials took place, leading up to this year’s anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The Pacific Historic Park website, www.pacifichistoricparks.org, lists all of the commemoration events.

A play entitled “Nothing Is The Same” was held Nov. 29 at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth; the story followed four 11-year-old Oahu residents and detailed how their lives changed, after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Ceremonies and memorials were also held at the base on Dec. 7, to honor those who served.

The town of Hamburg held a recognition ceremony of its own on Dec. 6 at the Hamburg Town Hall.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 517 presented an honorary flag to the town of Hamburg; an additional flag was given to the village of Hamburg, as well. The purpose of the flag is to let homecoming veterans know that there is a local post and that they are welcome in the community, according to participants.

“There’s a lot of vets that deserve a lot more than they’re given,” Post Commander Dan Kilichowski said, adding that a majority of past presidents did their best to help veterans, but that President Barack Obama is not.

The VFW Post 517 hosts approximately 85 individuals and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“It’s the oldest and smallest post,” member Tom Magdziak said.

The VFW recognizes ceremonies, memorials and funerals for other veterans. Kilichowski, a veteran of the Vietnam War, explained how he still experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, 60 years after the war. He said he advocates for the proper treatment of U.S. veterans.

The Hamburg Town Hall is located at S-1600 S. Park Ave in Hamburg.
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