Coast Guard Island to host 70th anniversary event of Pearl Harbor attacks

Coast Guard District 11 NewsALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to welcome and honor survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks, Wednesday, Dec. 7, during a remembrance ceremony that will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the tragedy that helped bring the United States of America into World War II.

The Coast Guard has hosted this event in conjunction with Chapter Two of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association for 10 years. This year’s ceremony will include a formal arrival of military veterans and senior officers of the Coast Guard in WWII era military vehicles, a reading of a proclamation, a reading of the founding of the association, a ceremonial hanging of a wreath at 9:55 a.m. PST, as to designate the time the attacks started, with a 21-gun salute followed by taps.

A 21-gun salute became the highest honor a nation can render in the 18th century. Varying customs among the maritime powers led to confusion in saluting and return of salutes. Great Britain, the world’s preeminent sea power in the 18th and 19th centuries, compelled weaker nations to salute first, and for a time monarchies received more guns than did republics. Eventually, by agreement, the international salute was established at 21 guns, although the United States did not agree on this procedure until August 1875.

“Coast Guard Island is proud to host this remembrance ceremony, particularly on the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor,” said Capt. Gary Spenik, commanding officer, Base Support Unit Alameda. “Although December 7th is a day that continues to live, as President Franklin Roosevelt said, “in infamy,” we also remember it as a day in which, against staggering odds, our fighting men bravely defended our nation’s freedom. The Coast Guard honors those whose courage continues to be a model for those who protect our shores and work toward honorable and lasting peace in the world.”

The Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor and on the airfields of Oahu began at 7:55 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, and ended shortly before 10 a.m. Even with a vigorous counterattack by American military forces who were caught by surprise, the Japanese forces sank or severely damaged 18 ships including eight battleships, three light cruisers and three destroyers. Aircraft casualties included 161 planes destroyed and 102 seriously damaged.

Military casualties numbered into the thousands: Both the Navy and Marines lost more than two thousand members. The Army lost more than 200. In all, more than 1,200 military were wounded.

The Coast Guard was transferred to the Navy about a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Working under the Navy, several Coast Guard cutters were stationed at Pearl Harbor including the 327-foot cutter Taney, and two 125-foot patrol crafts Tiger and Reliance. During the attack, the Taney opened fire on Japanese aircraft flying over Honolulu Harbor while the Tiger conducted anti-submarine sweeps outside of Pearl Harbor.

Even though the Coast Guard played a small role in Pearl Harbor, it was a precursor to the much larger role it would play throughout the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of operation for the remainder of the war years.

For more information about the Coast Guard and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, click here.

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