Pearl Harbor Remembered, Survivors Honored
by Sandy Fahy
photo courtesy of MOWW
BELLEAIR - Over 75 members and guests of the Clearwater Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, Clearwater Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America and the Greater Clearwater Council of The Navy League gathered at Belleair Country Club on December 8 to remember those members of the Armed Forces who were lost at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during the surprise military strike on the U.S. Pacific Fleet by over 350 Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941.
Three survivors of that fateful day were honored at this year's Pearl Harbor Rembrance Dinner. They were LtC Carroll Andrews, USAF Ret.; Cpt. Stephen Starwyck, USN Ret.; and S1C Thomas Collins, USN. Andrews recalled how he was in the barracks when the first wave of planes attacked. He flattened himself against the wall as bullets shattered and splintered the windows around him. The men started running, desperately trying to reach their stations as bombs targeted military installations and the U.S. Navy battleships, destroyers and cruisers in the harbor. Over 2300 persons lost their lives that day. More than 1300 were wounded.
The Rembrance Dinner program included a toast to the flag, POW/MIA tribute and Pearl Harbor memorial tribute. The memorial tribute featured the lighting of a Christmas wreath. Taking part in the ceremony were Col. Marilyn DiGirol, commander of MOWW; Capt. Bob Swick, president of MOAA; and Mrs. Barbara King, president-elect of the Navy League.
Later, at the buffet dinner, there were toasts to the president of the United States, U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the heroes of Pearl Harbor, prior wars and today. Also on the agenda was a concert by the St. Petersburg Community Band. LtC Andrews, a former musician, conducted the band as it played a medley of John Philip Sousa marches. Col. DiGirol praised the 90-year-old WWII veteran. "He did a splendid job conducting," she said. To the delight of the audience, one of the survivors--S1C Collins--was the winner of the drawing for a special painting titled "Night of Nights". The print, which depicts the Screaming Eagles on D-Day, June 6, 1944, was donated by Lt. Bud Berry and his wife, Peggy. Lt. Berry was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force at the time of the Normandy invasion. Proceeds from tickets sold for the drawing were earmarked for the MOWW Youth Leadership Conference Fund.
The evening concluded with the benediction by Father Gregory Andrews.