77 years ago, in November 1941, a war alert was lifted. The following month, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in two waves on a Sunday morning…more than 35 hundred killed or wounded, 21 ships sunk or damaged.
Everett Hyland, fist-bumping, quipping, obliging at Pearl Harbor’s Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, “volunteering” his time, for 23 years now, now 95 years old and close to his memories as an 18-year old sailor on the Pennsy, the battleship USS Pennsylvania…
“I was a smart teenager. I figured if we ever go to war, the last place I’d want to be stuck is in the radio quarters down in the middle of the ship,” says Everett Hyland.
And that’s where he was, when peace shattered. The Pennsy was in drydock across battleship row. Hyland ran up to the battle station on the aft deck, he says five high altitude bombers flew overhead.
“They all released their bombs at the same time and we took one hit,” says Hyland.
The ships Downes and Cassin in front of the Pennsy destroyed, behind smoke billowing from the Arizona.
“And the other fellows with me, Harold Comstock, Clarence Hoss, Joe Mahofski, Jim Owens, Joe Pace were killed,” says Everett Hyland.
Hyland was wounded beyond recognition.
“And he came over and he bent over and he looked at me and he said who are you? I said ‘it’s Hyland’ and all he did was back away and go “ah, ah” very good for the morale, evidently I was quite a mess,” says Hyland.
Nine months of recovery and he was back on the ship, only leaving the Navy after the war ended. Hyland’s now a retired elementary school science teacher. He moved to Hawaii in the year of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when he met his wife Miyoko, from Japan. He used to volunteer here five days a week, now it’s down to one with no plans of going to none.