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(Neb)-Pearl Harbor Survivors Join Gov Ricketts For Pearl Harbor Proclamation

By: John Axtell Posted at: 12/07/2017 12:51 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Flags across the country are flying at half-staff today for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the military bases in Hawaii that brought the United States into WWII. More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack.

      Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation for the day yesterday and was joined by 3 of Nebraska's 4 known living Pearl Harbor survivors.

     96-year old Walter Barsell of Wahoo was stationed onshore during the attack, 99-year old Ed Guthrie of Omaha was on the destroyer tender USS Whitney, and 94-year old Melvin Kennedy of Grand Island was serving on the USS Regal, a repair ship, the day of the attack

     Governor Ricketts called his proclamation "a symbol of appreciation for the sacrifices of the men and women who have served to defend our country” and a thank you to the Pearl Harbor survivors and their families.

      Ricketts said it's "humbling to think these men witnessed and were a part of one of America’s most historic and defining moments" and called it a "distinct honor" to meet with them and sign the proclamation celebrating their bravery.

“Things happened so fast on that Sunday morning. First, we could smell the flowers in the air. It was the South Pacific, Sunday morning sunshine and everything. Five minutes later, we couldn’t smell flowers. We could smell burning oil and gasoline, and it was all chaos,” said Survivor Walter Barsell. After the attack, Americans ‘got together,’” he went on. “We don’t want to go through anything like that again, but I would like to see us get together.”

Walter Barsell was on shore duty for the U.S. Navy in the Receiving Station Barracks when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place.  Walter and others were told to run as they had no weapons, and after hiding in a pineapple field, he returned to the docks to clear debris and help survivors from the water.  Walter was then assigned to the entrance of Pearl Harbor for underwater sound detection.  After serving six years in the U.S. Navy, Walter returned to Nebraska where he worked for Hinky Dinky.

Ed Guthrie was an electrician mate on the USS Whitney, docked in Pearl Harbor the day of the attack on December 7, 1941.  Sitting on deck reading a comic book, he saw the Japanese planes approach and drop their bombs and watched them hit the other ships.  Ed spent three days picking up survivors and bodies in the oily water.  He went on to serve on the USS Banner and participate in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.  He was discharged from the Navy after six years and returned to Omaha where he was an electrician at OPPD.

Melvin Kennedy served on the USS Rigel, which was docked at Pearl Harbor the day of the attack.  Melvin spent three days after the attack searching for survivors and bodies in the harbor.  Melvin also served on the USS Clark, taking care of the ship’s lifeboats and manning the pointer position on an antiaircraft gun while heading to the Marshall Islands and Gilbert Islands.  After serving six years in the U.S. Navy, Melvin returned to Nebraska where he was a farmer and a mechanic.


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