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My Dad at Pearl Harbor

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#1 Greg Burnham

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 06:50 PM

My father, Bertrand Burnham, arrived at Pearl Harbor the week of November 30, 1941 assigned to the USS Lexington aircraft carrier. It was berthed there until December 5th when, along with the USS Enterprise, both were ordered out to sea for reasons top secret. My father received a call at home in the middle of the night (December 4th - 5th) ordering him back on board. He was not allowed to tell my mother why he was ordered back and he was told to "leave home unnoticed, if at all possible," which he did. When my mother woke up in the morning she found a note from him simply saying, "I had to go to work early." And that was that.


48 hours later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor destroying many battleships, etc., but the two most valued targets, the aircraft carrieirs, USS Lexington and USS Enterprise were "luckily" no longer in port.


My mother woke up that morning, Sunday December 7th, 1941 a bit confused. She heard low flying aircraft overhead and thought to herself how odd it was because the Navy never conducted exercises on Sunday, especially that early in the day (approximately 8:00 am). She went outside and noticed that the aircraft were flying low enough to see very well that they did not bear US Navy markings, but rather Japanese "zeroes" on their wings. Then she heard the bombs exploding and all hell broke loose. My eldest brother had just turned one year old a few days earlier.


Had the Lex not been ordered out to sea there is a very high probability that it and the Enterprise would have been sunk as they were among the prime targets. There is also a high probablility that my father may not have survived such an attack. In that case, I would not be here.


I salute all of the brave men and women who survived Pearl Harbor and I mourn those who did not.


PS: Don't ask why there is a double entry for my father in the roster. It remains classified.



Greg Burnham



"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- JFK

"It is difficult to abolish prejudice in those bereft of ideas. The more hatred is superficial, the more it runs deep."  -- Farewell America (1968) 

“The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."  -- JFK

"A wise man can act a fool, but a foolish man can never act wise."  -- Unknown



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#2 Chuck Barlow

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 04:54 AM

My father-in-law was a private with the 25th infantry division at Schofield Barracks on 7 December 1941. He spent his entire hitch in the 25th and became a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Emil Zeiler Sr. Died in 1993, but he did get to return to Hawaii on a few occasions. 

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