Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Local News

Highlands County residents share memories of Pearl Harbor Day


SEBRING - When Henry Martin's wife woke up the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, she turned on the television and told her husband that, "The Japanese are bombing Pearl Harbor," Martin recalled on Friday, nearly 72 years later.

His first question, he said, was "Where is Pearl Harbor?"

Today in Sebring, at a time when most now know where Pearl Harbor is located, the WAVES Highlanders Unit 88 will host a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony at 1 p.m. at the Sea Services Museum, 1402 Roseland Ave., off Kenilworth Boulevard.

Martin, who is now a resident of The Palms of Sebring, but lived in San Diego at the time, recalled that during the same day authorities began blacking out lights along the coast.

From that point on, he said, residents were not allowed to turn on porch lights and they had to use material to black out light coming from windows at their residences.

They also could not drive with their headlights on at night, he said. Drivers had to use their parking lights, Martin said.

"We couldn't have any lights on that were shining toward the sea," he said.

Many people don't know or don't recall that acts of war occurred near California, he said. Submarines sunk ships near San Francisco, Martin said.

"We were close to the war," he added.

Martin said at the time he worked for an aircraft factory that made B-24s for England.

But, he said, two years later, (President) Roosevelt sent me a letter inviting me to join the service," he said. "That was what they called the draft."

Wanda Frutchey recalled that she was doing laundry at her residence in Michigan on Dec. 7, 1941.

"It was just kind of shocking," she said. Back then, Frutchey added, she kept watching the news. People didn't expect the attack, Frutchey added. She said her first husband didn't serve in the military during the war, but her second husband spent four years in Germany.

Nancy Ranck first learned about the attack when she heard Lowell Thomas talking about it on the radio.

"I was a child at the time," she said, but added that she understood the United States was going to war.

Her father, a professor specializing in electronics at the University of Pennsylvania, did not serve in the military because his knowledge of electronics was considered important.

He was an unpaid consultant to the Secretary of the Navy, Ranck said.

"He would go to Washington, D.C.," she said.

She said her father helped develop what she believes was the first computer, which was used just around the end of the war or right after it to help calculate ballistics.

Elaine Marchand, a resident of Boston at the time of the war, said she was 5 years old when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred. She said she doesn't recall that particular day, but remembers the restrictions on use of lights and the use of blue and red tokens to get food.

Paul Marchand, her husband, who was 7 years old when the attack occurred, said he also doesn't remember the day of the attack. But he recalled that people drove around in cars with headlights half painted black.

Born four years after the end of the war, Maj. Bruce Stefanik with the Salvation Army in Sebring, said he never learned anything about the attack or other events during the war.

"Dad was in the Pacific and he didn't talk about it afterwards," Stefanik said, adding that most of those who served were the same way.

He said his father served in the Army Air Corps, which was the predecessor of the Air Force.

When his father died and he at first tried to get a stone with the Army Air Corps on it, "They told us there was no such thing."

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