CHARLOTTE, N.C., December 7, 2016 – On most Wednesdays, Myth Trivia represents a whimsical effort to shed the cares of the day for interesting bits of information. Since today is Pearl Harbor Day, “A date that will live in infamy,” it seemed appropriate to remember those who sacrificed their lives by offering a few historical items you might not know.
1 – “Meatballs” from the sky: Only an American could find a bit of humor in the horrors that took place in 110 minutes at Pearl Harbor. US servicemen called the Japanese planes “meatballs” because of the huge red rising sun that was painted on them.
To Americans the rising sun looked like an oversized “meatball” from a distance.
2 – Bands of brothers: Perhaps you recall the story of the five Sullivan brothers who joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor. Assigned to the USS Juneau near Guadalcanal, the ship was struck by a torpedo in 1942 and all five brothers perished in the incident.
At Pearl Harbor, records show that 37 pairs of brothers were aboard the USS Arizona during the Japanese attacks. Of the 74 siblings, 63 were killed and only one full set of brothers survived.
3 – Rise like the Phoenix: All but two of the eight battleships that were targeted during the two-wave Japanese assault were eventually repaired and returned to action. Both the USS California and the USS West Virginia went to the bottom of the harbor, but the Navy raised them and reused them.
Bullet holes and damage from the attacks can still be seen at several of the military installations on Oahu, including Schofield Barrack, Wheeler Army Airfield and Hickam Army Air Field.
It was decided that rather than repair or cover up the holes, they should remain as they are as a permanent reminder of the lives lost that day and to provide motivation for our military to remain strong.
4 – There’s no fuel like an old fuel: Believe it or not, the USS Arizona still leaks up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day. The ship had taken on a full load of fuel, amounting to nearly 1.5 million gallons, the day before the attacks. Much of the fuel ignited during the fighting which aided in the explosion and fires that destroyed the ship.
Despite that, the History Channel reports that approximately 9 quarts of oil still leak into the harbor every day. When some visitors learn of the story, many have said that “it’s as if the ship was bleeding.”
5 – Yankee pride, American patriotism: In October, 2013 when the government shut down for more than two weeks, there was no one around to take care of the Pearl Harbor Memorial site. No one that is except a group of servicemen and their families who refused to let the site become abandoned because of politics.
In a spontaneous serendipitous effort, the families raked, weeded and mowed the grass to keep it pristine. Their message to all veterans was, “We haven’t forgotten about you. We will not forget about you.”
6 – Attack veterans can be laid to rest at Pearl Harbor: Much like her sister memorial at Omaha Beach in Normandy, the survivors of the attacks at Pearl Harbor have the option to be laid to rest with their lost comrades in arms. Crew members who served aboard the USS Arizona may choose to have their ashes deposited beneath one of the sunken gun turrets.
Roughly 30 of the approximate Arizona survivors chose to be honored in this manner. Today, less than a dozen of the 355 survivors are still alive.
Other servicemen who survived may have their ashes scattered wherever their ship was located during the attack.
At Normandy, a similar option was granted to be interred at Omaha Beach or shipped back to the U.S. At the American Cemetery on Omaha Beach, all the white marble crosses and Stars of David face in the same direction…toward home.
7 – Identifying those that that died: Advancements in DNA science is allowing forensic scientists to identify soldiers layed to rest in graves of the Unknown, bringing closure to the families that lost so much on that day. Interestingly it is the oil that came out of those ships that encased the remains and has helped to retain the DNA allowing our war heroes to return home.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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