Eyewitness to a day of infamy

Albany

William Langston has mixed feelings about being the only Pearl Harbor survivor from the Capital Region able to attend a Sunday ceremony marking the deadly attack of 73 years ago.

Langston, 93,was a fireman first class aboard the battleship USS West Virginia on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes launched a surprise attack on the American naval fleet in Hawaii. Over the years, the Latham man and other local survivors formed a fraternity. They met each anniversary of the attack at Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520.

But the special group who witnessed one of history’s turning points has dwindled in number in recent years. Langston is now one of only two known Pearl Harbor survivors in the Capital Region. The other living survivor, Edward Bartholomew, a gunner’s mate who was assigned to the battleship USS Pennsylvania, lives in a Troy nursing home and is unable to attend the 9 a.m. ceremony on Sunday. Two other “Pearl” veterans died in the last few months, including Langston’s close friend, Charles Ebel of Guilderland, a former seaman first class on the USS Curtiss who passed away Nov. 25 at Albany Medical Center Hospital at 95.

Langston said Friday that Ebel’s death was weighing on him ahead of this year’s ceremony.

“Without Chuck, I don’t know how I am going to react,” Langston said in an interview. “I am hoping I am going to be able to handle this OK.”

The Pearl Harbor attack killed 2,403 Americans on a Sunday morning and brought the U.S. into World War II. More than 1,000 Americans were wounded and at least 18 ships and 347 planes were damaged or destroyed. Of the roughly 84,000 Americans who survived the attack, fewer than 3,000 are alive today. The national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded in 2012 due to dwindling membership.

In the Capital Region, the Albany County Veterans Service Bureau, the USS Slater and the Zaloga American Legion post have organized patriotic receptions each Dec. 7 for many years. The annual ceremonies feature a salute to survivors, words from elected officials, music and a Navy breakfast. Six Pearl Harbor survivors from the Capital Region attended the 2012 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony in Albany. A year later, only Langston and Ebel attended the event.

Langston was putting food away after breakfast aboard the West Virginia on that fateful day, when the ship was hit by enemy torpedoes and bombs. He was able to escape the carnage before the battleship sank. Langston sought refuge aboard another ship before swimming to an island, where he dug a trench with Marines to mount a .50-caliber machine gun.

Bartholomew, 93, the region’s only other remaining survivor, helped retrieve the dead, according to his wife, Barbara Bartholomew, of Lansingburgh. He suffers from memory loss and resides in Van Rensselaer Manor in Troy, his wife said. A graduate of La Salle Institute, Bartholomew served six years in the military. The couple expect to celebrate their 73rd anniversary next month.

“He was not someone to discuss what happened at great length,” Barbara Bartholomew said.

In addition to Ebel, the region this fall also lost Carleton L. Strunk, who witnessed the Japanese attack from the battleship USS Maryland. Strunk, of Burnt Hills, died Oct. 27 in Saratoga Hospital at the age of 92, according to reports. He also served six years in the Navy.

Among the Pearl Harbor survivors who passed away in 2013 were Robert Grimm, 91, of Schenectady, a carpenter’s mate first class on the destroyer USS Cummings; and A.J. Krenn, 91, of Bethlehem, a seaman first class on the West Virginia. Leonard “Len” Dooren, a chief warrant officer on the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans, died at 96 in Cohoes on Christmas Day in 2012.

Charles Burkes, director of the Albany County Veterans Service Bureau, has helped coordinate the Albany Pearl Harbor commemoration for the last three years. He said Friday that he thinks some type of event will continue to be held in the future, even without survivors from the fiery day.

“It’s a moment to remember,” Burkes said. “I don’t think the veterans will just let it go. Too much was lost there.”

dyusko@timesunion.com518-454-5353@DAYusko

Pearl Harbor remembrance

• Where: Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520, 4 Everett Road Extension, Albany

• When: 9 a.m. Sunday

• Info: 518-459-1520

Pearl Harbor remembrance

Where: Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520, 4 Everett Road Extension, Albany

When: 9 a.m. Sunday

Info: 518-459-1520

Source Article from http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Eyewitness-to-a-day-of-infamy-5939064.php
Eyewitness to a day of infamy
http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Eyewitness-to-a-day-of-infamy-5939064.php
http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/rss?p=Japanese%20Class
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results



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