Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Dec 7th 1941 “Hero’s in your Hood”

December 7th, 2011 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Hero’s in your “Hood”

Hero’s in your “Hood”


Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  I use to get a phone call on December 7th  each year from a retired WWII Marine (with the same name as a famous author) who has since passed away… “Hey Taco, Happy Slap a Jap day.”  I know, not politically correct these days but its how they felt.

That was a day, that generation will never forget and it doesn’t surprise me that revisionist in Japan have turned that attack back on us.  It was America’s fault and we forced them to attack.  Well, I think the proof is in the dead and wounded left buried on that morning.

I digress, what I want to talk about are the number of interesting folks you have living around your neighborhood and you don’t even know it.  There is a retired Air Force pilot down the block, who started flying B-17’s in 1945 but never made it to Europe. He earned the Silver Star in Vietnam flying spotter planes over a fire fight a bit too long once. A very interesting guy.  There is another Navy Pilot who flew SBD’s in the Pacific in WWII, he has some great stories as well.  My “Uncle Bud” was in Africa and Europe during  WWII only four doors down.

Anyway, I love talking to these guys about their experiences during WWII or in the Military all together.  One guy we won’t be able to hear from is Retired First Sergeant ET Lewis USMC, who passed away a few years ago and lived not far from here. His daughter Helen goes to my church and helped me research her father.

He joined the Marine Corps at 17 and was stationed on a Battleship that fateful day, one of seventy five Marines on board the USS Nevada when the Japanese Zero’s attacked.  ET was standing watch that morning and about to ring 8 bells when he saw the planes commence their attack.  He remembers his shipmates commenting on how realistic this attack was. It wasn’t until they saw the Meat Balls (red circles of the raising sun) on the wings of the planes that he realized this wasn’t a drill.

As orders were shouted, the men scrambled to get their guns into action.  He ran to get ammo and was on his way back when a bomb hit the Captains deck and blew it apart, killing everyone there. He happened to have a wall in-between and survived the initial blast with just shrapnel to his head.  Those stationed there weren’t so lucky.  Minutes later, he was standing next to another Sailor when a bomb exploded in the middle of the ship.  Once again fate stepped in to save his life with large post blocking the majority of the explosion.

The Sailor next to him died, full of holes.  ET’s leg was torn apart, loaded with shrapnel as he crawled over the dead to help wounded friends.  He said this went on for two hours and four minutes and he prayed he would make it.

The start of his war was spent in a hospital for two weeks while recouping from the numerous wounds.  Upon his release, he spent the next few months helping salvage the USS Nevada.  He went on to fight on Iwo Jima, in Korea and Vietnam before he retired with 22 years in the Corps.  His next occupation was that of a school teacher here in Texas.  He wasn’t afraid to tell his students about the horror he faced that day because as he said in 1984,

“One of the reasons I don’t mind talking about it is I hope that our country never gets that weak again. That was a really big defeat for our country.  The people in 1941 didn’t want to spend money on the military.  If nothing else, Pearl Harbor should be a lesson that our country needs to have a strong military.”

These men, the greatest generation, hero’s as I see them, loved our country more then anything else.  Now they are joining the ranks of gate guards in heaven at the cyclic rate.  I encourage everyone who reads this to document their stories so it’s not lost to the foot notes of history.  Send it to me and I’ll post it here on the Sandgram.

With that, I salute you ET Lewis and all the men and women who were wounded or killed on this day in beautiful Hawaii, seventy years ago.

Semper Fi,






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