KEMPER AND STURM REMEMBER "DAY OF INFAMY" - December 7, 1941

(12/07/2017)

CALHOUN SOLDIERS RECALL HISTORIC MOMENT

Photos courtesy of Naval Historical Center

Pearl Harbor Day is December 7th - "A Day that will live in Infamy."

Several Calhoun men were present during Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, adding to the crisis of Germany's Hitler attempting to control the world.

It became the great World War.

EXCEPTS from the book "Calhoun County in World War II"

JAMES HATZELL KEMPER was one of the Calhoun men present at that "Day of Infamy." Kemper and another sailor were standing on the fantail of their ship, the USS Honolulu, a light cruiser, on that Sunday morning. The were in a dress white uniforms, waiting to go ashore to church.

Suddenly, they found the large naval base under attack from Japanese planes. Kemper, an aviation machinist mate, ran to his battle readiness assignment, a five inch gun. Unfortunately, the power was cut off and the guns had to be fired manually. The captain gave orders to get underway, and electric cables from shore supplying the cruiser were cut, and all power was lost.

The USS Honolulu was actually saved when one bomber, headed for the cruiser, was shot down by a gun from a destroyer which was tied up next to the ship. But the action damaged the cruiser and it was put in dry dock for a month, then was sent to San Diego for further repairs before finally getting back in service on a voyage to Australia.

Kemper served out the entire war in the south Pacific on many different ships and was on the island of Saipan when the war ended. He continued in the Navy until his retirement on June 28, 1960.

Photos courtesy of Naval Historical Center

CECIL FOREST STURM, born in 1915 in Arnoldsburg, son of Roy and Florence Sturm. I was one of their four sons in World War II. Jesse, Roy Jr., and Chester, all serving in the US Army....On December 7, 1941, the day the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor, I was in Washington DC. I had been at Pearl Harbor before the attack but we returned to Norfolk to have the USS Yorktown overhauled. We came through the Panama Canal and I left the ship in Bermuda.

The morning after the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor I was in Washington, standing and looking at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The cab driver came up to me and told me about Pearl Harbor being attacked...I didn't believe it. The driver said every serviceman was to report back to his duty station or ship. I went right back to the USS Yorktown and we headed for the Pacific, back to Pearl Harbor.

We were told that the USS Arizona and two or three other ships had been sunk, but when we pulled into the harbor we saw ships' masts sticking out of the water everywhere. My main concern was to get to Scoffield Barracks to find my brother Roy Jr. The taxi driver said there was no need to go, most everyone had been killed.

I went anyway, got out of the cab and was walking toward the barracks and Roy Jr. was the first guy I met. He was walking down the steps. Seeing my brother alive was the happiest event of my war experience.


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