Today I want to share a beautiful post my dear husband made on facebook regarding the Navy Band of the USS ARIZONA on the fateful night of December 7th, 1941.....It struck a deep cord in my heart...I am so very proud to be married to a man who has placed such great value on God, Country, and Family!
~70 years ago tonight, Saturday, December 6, 1941, there was a weekly Battle of the Bands competition at Block Arena on Pearl Harbor. The above band, that of the USS ARIZONA, did not participate. There is a myth that not only did they play that evening, but that they won, and as a reward were granted the privilege of sleeping in the next morning. That is incorrect. They had actually won several weeks before, and were scheduled to play again on December 20. So, at 0750 Sunday December 7th, a number of them were on the fantail with their instruments, dutifully preparing to play the National Anthem at Morning Colors. They never played a note. They would not ever play again. Instead, when the Japanese bombs started to fall at about 0755, they dropped their instruments and ran to their General Quarters stations. Most of the 21 bandsmen were assigned as ammunition handlers below-decks, passing rounds for the guns. Others were assigned to gun crews above decks. It is virtually certain that all of them were at their GQ stations shortly after 0800, when an enemy bomb penetrated the forward magazine, and the massive amount of ordnance stored there detonated in a cataclysmic explosion. ARIZONA's band was wiped out, along with 1156 of their shipmates. The corpses of three bandsmen were later pulled from the harbor. It is possible that a few of the others were as well, unidentified, and then buried in a grave marked "Unknown". However, most of them still rest beneath the waters of Pearl Harbor, less than half a mile from where I sit typing this. The band competition they were scheduled to participate in 13 days later never occurred. Instead, the members of the other bands unanimously voted to award the Battle of Music trophy to the ARIZONA band, and it was re-named "The USS ARIZONA Band Trophy", with the names of all 21 bandsmen inscribed on it. This evening I've been reflecting on that last night of peace 70 years ago, and wondering how the Navy musicians in the above photo spent that night. I wonder what they did during that last evening on earth, when they were blissfully ignorant that they had only a few hours left to live, unaware of the horrors that the morning would bring, of the bright futures that would be ripped away from them. I have no way to know for sure, but I like to believe that they went out on the town in Honolulu with their shipmates, had a great steak dinner (the previous day, Friday Dec 5th, was Navy payday for the Pacific Fleet after all), and then perhaps raised a little H*** in the best Sailor tradition. Then after dodging the Shore Patrol, staggered back across the brow in the wee hours of December 7th supporting and being supported by their shipmates, and finally collapsed into the rack with contented smiles on their faces, having had the time of their lives. That's how I like to think it was for them, 70 years ago tonight. Rest easy, Sailors.~
Love and Light,