Sutherlin resident Max Hardy was eating breakfast aboard the USS Ramsay at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today when an alarm signalled the Japanese attack that would mark the beginning of World War II.
Still, he said the incident didn’t cross his mind during this morning’s breakfast.
At 91, Hardy is one of the very few Douglas County residents who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I was present and accounted for, that’s about all I can say,” Hardy said.
The Ramsay was a Navy minelayer ship. It was moored at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese dropped a bomb on nearby Ford Island at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Ramsay opened fire 10 minutes later with an anti-aircraft gun and several .50-caliber machine guns, firing intermittently on enemy planes as they came into range, according to a report filed that day by the ship’s commanding officer.
An hour after the attack began, the Ramsay moved out of the harbor while continuing to fire at Japanese planes. One plane was struck and destroyed.
The Ramsay also released depth charges that destroyed a midget Japanese submarine sent to observe the positions of the Navy ships.
No one aboard the Ramsay was injured, though sailors who had been on liberty were strafed by a plane as they returned to the Ramsay aboard a small boat.
Despite its importance to history, the Pearl Harbor attack didn’t strike Hardy as the most important event he experienced during his Navy career.
“During World War II the most important thing happened to me on August 2nd of ’43. That was the day I married the woman I lived with for 59 years,” he said.
Sue Naomi Hardy has died. The two raised five children and Hardy is proud to say all three of his sons entered the service. Two went into the Air Force and one the Army.
He said it’s hard to believe more than 70 years have passed since the day the war began.
“It’s when these children of mine come around and they’re getting gray hairs, that’s what shocks me. I don’t feel that old,” he said.
Joe Brumbach, 90, of Dixonville is on a Caribbean cruise right now, but 71 years ago today he witnessed the Japanese attack at the Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay.
Brumbach had some good luck that day.
As his son, Joe Brumbach Jr. of Dixonville, tells the story, all the American fighter planes at the station had been lined up on the runway, ready to respond if the island was attacked. The one plane that wasn’t lined up was his father’s, which was stuck between two big hangars. Then Japanese planes attacked their station.
“All the ones that were lined up were destroyed right away,” Joe Brumbach Jr. said. His father was able to get into his plane and shoot down one of the Japanese planes.
“There were only a few shot down that day, so any one that shot one down, that was spectacular,” Joe Brumbach Jr. said.
A Marine who shot at the same plane at the same time was later awarded the kill and the Congressional Medal of Honor, but Joe Brumbach Jr., 64, has evidence telling a different story.
“I still actually have a newspaper clipping that says my Dad shot down a Japanese Zero,” he said.
Joe Brumbach Jr., who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, grew up on stories of his father’s experiences. Another incident he recalled about the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor was that the sailors were sent uphill to dig trenches into the dirt because they feared a land attack was coming next. The sailors’ uniforms were so white that they were highly visible from the base, so they were brought back and all, including Brumbach, had their uniforms stained.
“They dipped them in huge vats of coffee so they would all be brown like the dirt,” Joe Brumbach Jr. recalled.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.