On the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Capt. Randy Lynch, Naval Station Great Lakes commanding officer, spoke before a crowd of Pearl Harbor survivors, World War II veterans, their descendants, and officials Friday, Dec. 7, at Oakton Place in Des Plaines.
The commemoration was being organized by Mike Lake, Kevin O'Connell, Don Meseth, Jay Lewkowitz, and brothers Rick and Bob Miller with the assistance of Illinois Chapter 1 Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Pearl Harbor Joe Triolo, Lyle Hancock and Ed Block attended.
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A battery from Naval Station Great Lakes fired a salute. The Navy Band Great Lakes provided musical accompaniment. A color guard from the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center presented the colors.
A Pearl Harbor display room was open after the ceremony with the help of the Great Lakes Naval Museum, Art Carlson, the Des Plaines Library, and the Miller family.
The Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was a carefully planned and well-executed stroke that removed the U.S. Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion in World War II.
According to the Naval History & Heritage Command, the Japanese Navy secretly sent across the Pacific an aircraft carrier task force with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the world's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941. Within a short time, five of eight
battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged.
Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and more than 2,400 Americans were dead. The attack on Pearl Harbor shocked and enraged the previously divided American people and brought the United States into the war against Japan and Germany.