Remembering Pearl Harbor: an infamous day in history

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ashley Tyler
  • JIOCEUR Analytic Center Public Affairs
Editor's note: Due to the sensitivity of the joint intelligence mission, the last names of personnel have been removed in this article.

Minutes before 8 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked U.S. Naval base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Approximately 2,400 Americans were killed during the surprise attack.

Decades later, on a cold , rainy Dec. 7 morning at RAF Molesworth, United Kingdom, multiple U.S. military services, commands and bases joined together to commemorate the anniversary of the infamous day.

As the rain slowly dissipated, the ceremony began on the parade grounds with the U.S. Africa and European Commands at Molesworth in formation.

A display of U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force personnel stood side-by-side and presented arms as 48th Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle pilots from RAF Lakenheath demonstrated an aerial salute.

After the flyby, Navy Capt. Daryl Hancock, Maritime Command, RAF Northwood senior national U.S. representative, delivered his speech to the audience.

"Some people will ask, 'why commemorate such a brutal attack on a beautiful Sunday morning,'" he said. "I commemorate because it's personal. I believe all of us here today commemorate to honor the fallen, as a reminder to maintain our guard and to reinforce the fact that our enemies cannot be expected to follow any rule book."

Sitting beside the podium as Hancock spoke was a pale blue-eyed, 93-year-old man who listened with intense concentration, as he waited to speak.

Former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. John Egan, a Pearl Harbor survivor, slowly rose to the microphone and uttered a few words, not in remembrance to the attack, but to express his appreciation to his fellow brothers and sisters in arms. 

"I am grateful to be here today in your presence," said the Purple Heart recipient. "I appreciate what you patriots are accomplishing and I'm happy to still be kicking around at 93."

After Egan spoke, he joined Army Col. Mark Kjorness, USAFRICOM joint intelligence director, and Navy Seaman Sydney, USAFRICOM analyst, in laying an anchor-shaped wreath in honor of the men and women who died during the attack.

The words of the two speakers seemed to linger long after the 423rd Air Base Group Honor Guard performed a three-volley salute, followed by the playing of Taps, reminding Service members that infamous day in December was also a testament to the united strength and camaraderie of the U.S. Armed Forces.