Following is an excerpt from Reconciliation – A Son’s Story. My Dad, Vernon’s, first experience in the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at the beginning of WWII changed him forever.
“The Japanese used 354 planes to torpedo, dive bomb, horizontal bomb, and strafe ships, and air bases. All but 28 returned safely to their aircraft carriers and were available to participate in the Battle of Midway five months later. According to Navy reports of the event, it was a complete and total surprise, a surreal experience. No one could believe that any country in the world would even think of attacking the United States of America’s Naval Fleet.
It gives me pause to think about this “surreal” event in the minds of men who were mentally unprepared for the attack. I can imagine when the first explosions were heard that one would not make a connection to torpedoes or bombs being delivered precisely to their targets with the intent to surprise, destroy, and kill in what was considered a “safe harbor.” Looking out “open portholes” during an attack or even having the portholes open was neither an acceptable practice nor how sailors were trained to respond. Watching a fellow seaman get his head literally blown off his shoulders would create a shock to the body and mind that would forever be implanted in a person’s psyche. This surprise attack had to be an “Armageddon” for those either with religious or non-religious beliefs. How would any of them who survived get the experience rationalized to the extent that they could go on to fight another day? How would their lives be affected, and how could they even discuss the event with family members who would not understand? Would they decide not to discuss it at all? We now know the answer and subsequently became victims as family members and paid a price ourselves, but not even close to price our dear heroes and my father paid.”