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Pearl Harbor Survivors Honor Fallen USS Nevada Crew

Dec. 9, 2016 | BY Lisa Ferdinando , DOD News

On the shores of the channel where the battleship USS Nevada went aground during the attacks of Pearl Harbor, war veterans yesterday gathered here to attend a somber ceremony to honor the fallen.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Barbee and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rick Baty perform at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Barbee and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rick Baty perform at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Barbee and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rick Baty perform at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Sailors Perform
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Barbee and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Rick Baty perform at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161208-D-BN624-077

The audience members included two Pearl Harbor survivors as well as men who joined the USS Nevada crew after Pearl Harbor and fought in World War II.

Seventy-six sailors and Marines lost their lives due to the wounds they sustained as a result of the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, according to Navy Cmdr. Thomas Gorey, the chief staff officer at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“Today we honor those service members and their sacrifice,” he said.

Remembering the Attack

The Nevada was the only battleship that got underway after the assault began that morning. 

Nevada survivor Geb Galle said it was a smart decision to keep two boilers online, instead of just one, so the ship could get underway in a half-hour instead of two hours. 

Pearl Harbor survivors are among the guests at the at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivors are among the guests at the at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivors are among the guests at the at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Remembrance Ceremony
Pearl Harbor survivors are among the guests at the at the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died of wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161208-D-BN624-034

"I always felt that that quartermaster and that chief engineer had enough foresight and knew how to get things going when things got tough," he said.

But, the slow-moving battleship, which had already been hit by a torpedo and a bomb, was a target for Japanese dive bombers in the second wave of planes. It sustained further damage that started fires and caused more leaks. Realizing the dire situation, the crew grounded the ship to prevent it from blocking the channel.

Army veteran Wetzel Sanders was an anti-aircraft gunner on Hospital Point, where the Nevada went aground. He helped shoot down a Japanese plane, which then crashed into an empty house behind a hospital.

Pearl Harbor survivor Geb Galle, who was on the USS Nevada, addresses the remembrance ceremony for his shipmates killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivor Geb Galle, who was on the USS Nevada, addresses the remembrance ceremony for his shipmates killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivor Geb Galle, who was on the USS Nevada, addresses the remembrance ceremony for his shipmates killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Survivor Addresses
Pearl Harbor survivor Geb Galle, who was on the USS Nevada, addresses the remembrance ceremony for his shipmates killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161208-D-BN624-096

"It was awful," he said about that day, adding his unit was supposed to be in Pearl Harbor then.

"If we would have been there, we would have got most of those planes, I'm sure," he said.

Fast-Response, Bravery of Crew Lauded

Crew members were highly trained, as evident by their actions that day, according to Samuel Cox, director of Naval History and Heritage Command – he is also a retired Navy rear admiral.

"The heroism that was displayed by the crew of the Nevada is extraordinary," he said, noting the actions resulted in two Medals of Honor and 15 Navy Crosses.

The general quarters alarm went off at 8:01 a.m., the machine gun anti-aircraft battery was firing by 8:02 a.m., and by 8:03 a.m., the five-inch batteries were firing on the Japanese, Cox said.

“That’s actually an incredible, astonishing, rapid reaction to what was going on in the battle," he said.

The Japanese were surprised by the fierce, quick response from the U.S. ship, which was a deciding factor in not launching a third wave of planes, Cox said.

Contributions to Victory

The Nevada likely shot down at least five aircraft during the battle, possibly more, Cox said.

By shooting down the Japanese planes, the crew helped prevent the fuel farm and the repair facility from getting hit. The war would have gone on much longer without those assets, he said.

Samuel Cox, director of Naval History and Heritage Command, and Pearl Harbor survivors Wetzel Sanders and Geb Galle attend the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Samuel Cox, left, director of Naval History and Heritage Command, and Pearl Harbor survivors Wetzel Sanders and Geb Galle attend the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Samuel Cox, director of Naval History and Heritage Command, and Pearl Harbor survivors Wetzel Sanders and Geb Galle attend the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
History Heritage
Samuel Cox, left, director of Naval History and Heritage Command, and Pearl Harbor survivors Wetzel Sanders and Geb Galle attend the remembrance ceremony for the crew members of the USS Nevada killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 8, 2016. Seventy-six men died from wounds from the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161208-D-BN624-207

"The crew of the Nevada deserves a large share of the credit for that, so they played a role in the victory of the United States in World War II," he said.

The USS Nevada was repaired and went on to fight in World War II. It was the flag ship for the D-Day landings in Normandy, fought off southern France, and later went on to the Pacific front, he said.

In fact, after returning from France, Cox explained, the Nevada received salvaged guns from the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma.

"When the Nevada bombarded Iwo Jima and Okinawa, those guns from the Arizona and the Oklahoma were back in battle against the Japanese, even after having been lost in the battle here," he said.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)