A salute to the veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941: those for whom the War started at 6:45 AM, those for whom the War started at 7:49 AM, those who died at Pearl, those who lived to take part in WWII. Our Greatest Generation.
My uncle, Russell Reetz and a large contingent of activated citizen sailors, members of Minnesota Naval Reserve, many friends from childhood, were serving on the USS Ward, the first ship to enter the harbor after the sneak attack.
It was also the boat that fired the First Shot of America in WWII. The shots that sunk a Japanese mini-sub heading into Pearl Harbor an hour before the attack actually started. A monument to these men and their action stands, along with the gun itself, on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol.
For years, the men of the USS Ward told their story, but did not have the tangible proof of their feat. Russ and many of the others spent their later years going to schools and telling the children about the how and why American entered WWII, part of the oral history told by the Greatest Generation.
Uncle Russ lived to see the actual proof that USS Ward had sunk the sub in the First Shot of the great war, and he also lived to see the WWII monument in DC.
To Russ, to his shipmates, to those who died at Pearl Harbor, to those who lived to avenge their deaths, and to all the members of the Greatest Generation, we Salute You, and we Thank You.