Glimpses of a Last Goodbye
Holly Shelton, founder and organizer of Pearl Harbor Initiative, and Lt Col William (Bill) Phillips, co-organizer, arranged for six veterans from Florida’s Pensacola area to travel to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to join over 100 other survivors in events commemorating the heroes who lost their lives in the Japanese attack.
Air Compassion for Veterans with its partner American Airlines provided 18 plane tickets for the survivors from Pensacola and their guardians, caregivers, medical personnel and other crew. Here are poignant glimpses from that historic trip as recorded by Phillips and Shelton:
“We were able to get George Mills onto the 1010 Dock in Pearl Harbor where, in 1941 he witnessed the attack from his ship the USS Argonne. He reflected on the sight of the USS Arizona Memorial a few hundred yards away and bid farewell to the men who died there and are still entombed there.
“I helped Bill Braddock, SgtMaj, USMC, retired, find the exact spot where he, as a young “Buck Private” Marine, stood on the steps of his barracks on Ford Island and watched as a Japanese torpedo plane flew by him, then dropped a torpedo, probably against the USS California. He also described seeing the frantic efforts to cut through the hull of a capsized battleship to save sailors trapped belowdecks. The capsized ship was the Oklahoma. Bill’s daughter, Carol Brediger, had the experience of making the trip with her Dad and reliving his memories with him.
“We took Cass Phillips, LCDR, USN, retired, back to NAS Kaneohe where he was the honored guest at their Kaneohe Klipper Ceremony. He walked through the historic hangar there that was bombed while he took shelter in it. A friend from his squadron was killed a few feet away from him in that blast.
“Jim Landis, SCPO, USN, retired, got to see the still-visible scars in the concrete of the seaplane ramp on Ford Island where the first bomb of the attack fell. Jim was nearby and was wounded when he climbed into his plane, a Dauntless dive bomber, and used its rear cockpit machine guns to fire back at the attacking planes.
“Jay Carraway, SCPO, USN, retired, made the trip accompanied by his daughter, Tina Sutton, and was able to show her where his ship, the USS Hulbert, was docked and where he helped man a five inch gun that was credited with shooting down a Japanese plane.
“Frank Emond, CWO4, USN, retired, was a musician, a French Horn player, in the band of the USS Pennsylvania, a battleship in Drydock #1 across the harbor from Battleship Row. He watched the attack from there and saw the huge explosion when the USS Arizona blew up, killing every member of its band. Frank visited the Arizona Memorial, looked for and found each of the names of the 22 band members among the 1177 names on the Commemoration Wall that lists all the men killed on the Arizona.”
These recorded moments are sober reminders of the horrors of war and the high deeds of heroism enacted by the Greatest Generation—those who survived and those who gave their lives for our liberty.
Cass Phillips, RM1c, traveled to Makapu'u in search of the site of a VP-11crash in 1942 that killed all members of his crew (Phillips was not on that fateful flight). This is his own personal memorial. (Photo courtesy of PearlHarborHonorFlight.com and Rusty Buggy).