Pearl Harbor survivors in Des Plaines: If we only had warning
It's been 74 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and survivors like Joe Triolo can still clearly recall the events of the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
"It was a surprise. No one knew it was coming. Ships were not in any condition of readiness," said Triolo, who was aboard the USS Tangier when the attack began. "It was almost time for church.
"Had we had any warning, if there had been 10 to 15 minutes of notice, we could have had our guns manned and it might have been a different story," Triolo said.
Triolo, 95, of Zion is a regular attendee of an annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony in Des Plaines, organized by local VFW Post 2992 and brothers Bob and Rick Miller, whose father, Clarence, was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
Triolo was the only survivor to attend Monday's ceremony, held at the Des Plaines Park District's Prairie Lakes Theater. Most of those he knew from the Navy or from meetings of a local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter have died, he said.
Lyle Hancock of Wheeling, who regularly attended the Des Plaines ceremony, died in July. Ed Block, another survivor who attends every year, was at a family funeral Monday, Bob Miller said.
The Millers say they will continue to organize the event as long as they can to keep alive the memory of their dad and others who were at Pearl Harbor.
"It's a pretty heavy responsibility, but it's why we're here today," Bob Miller said. "We are not going to let this memory fade."
Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of the Naval Station Great Lakes, gave the keynote address at Monday's ceremony. He said one in four Navy sailors trained at Great Lakes during World War II.
Today, all those who enlist in the Navy undergo boot camp there.
"Every day, we work to guarantee that the legacy of honor, courage and commitment so strongly demonstrated at Pearl Harbor is ingrained in our sailors," Hawkins said.
The North Chicago-area station's museum hosted its own ceremony earlier Monday with a wreath laying and showing of a portion of a World War II documentary.