Pearl Harbor: A Survivor’s Tale
My old neighbor, Dean Reynolds, joined the Navy to get off the farm in Franklinville, NY. On the morning of December 7th, 1941 he was working a radio room at Pearl Harbor.
He died more than 20 years ago. Cancer did what the Japanese couldn't. Remember. He shared his story so we wouldn't forget.
At one point he raced up the stairs and saw a sailor getting mowed down running from a Japanese plane. The next morning Dean rowed to Ford Island to pick up radio equipment. His lasting memory is of paddling past bags of blue denim floating in the water. The corpses of men still not recovered after the attack. Dean was looking forward to discharge in a few months. Instead he made the Navy a career. He died more than 20 years ago. Cancer did what the Japanese couldn't. Remember. He shared his story so we wouldn't forget.
Dean didn’t dwell on war stories. He didn’t spend much time sharing them but one Thanksgiving week I was home from college and he came to visit. His summer house was next door to our place at the lake. He would come and stay with friends for deer hunting season. On a gloomy and rainy day when nobody wanted to be tracking animals in the woods Dean and his friends came and fetched me. “We’re going to the North Star,” they said. It was the tavern about one-half mile down the road. I spent an afternoon listening as they opened up about their experiences. My dad later complained it was a waste of time sipping beer with the old men but dad was wrong once in a great while. There aren’t many people alive who can share first-hand accounts of war and we should be glad about it and, yet. The stories remind us about being ever vigilant.
Those men from that Thanksgiving week are now all gone and there are so few left who are still willing to speak. When they do, write it down if you can. For future generations.