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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Remember The Other Casualties of Pearl Harbor

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Today we mark yet another passing of the seventh of December. Most of us will hear something about Pearl Harbor today, some of us may even know what happened there and be able to find it on a map.

In a larger sense, however, we should not forget that Pearl Harbor was not the only place we were attacked that day. To a great extent the men stationed at Pearl were mostly lucky.

Yes, more than 2,000 of them were killed, and another 2,000 were wounded, some of those crippled for life. Some died hours, and even days, after the attack as the air in the compartment of the ship they were trapped in ran out. Some few died because frightened men fired on unseen enemies in the dark of that night and killed friends.

But hundreds of men were left to fight, and eventually fall into the tender mercies of the Imperial Japanese Military on Wake and Gaum. Thousands were left to face the Japanese Army in the Philippines with no hope of resupply, seeing their rations cut again and again.

All of these men, and some women, were members of our armed forces. None of them expected to be abandoned to the tender mercies of what had by that time become perhaps the most brutalized, and brutalizing, military force on the planet, at least among "civilized" nations.

The overwhelming majority of them did their duty as best they could, while the men and women at Pearl Harbor picked up the pieces there, but did not miss very many meals or suffer from lack of proper medical treatment, even if it was hectic the first few days after the attack.

We should remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, yes. But we should also remember those others for whom the start of the American involvement in World War II was an even longer and more agonizing part of their lives.

Most of them did not survive it.

They, too, were casualties of Pearl Harbor, because with the Fleet disabled, there was no hope of rescue, much less resupply.

So when you think of Pearl Harbor on this day, think also of the various American outposts in the Pacific that the disaster at Pearl Harbor ultimately delivered into the less than tender hands of the Japanese Military, and remember that for all of that, cut off and isolated, they fought.

Wake fell before Christmas on 23 Dec 41, the Battered Bastards of Bataan held out until May of 1942.