South Shore residents reflect on Pearl Harbor
South Shore residents Roy Clason and Frank Pfyl reflected Thursday on the bombing at Pearl Harbor, 59 years prior.
Clason, who was only 6 when Japanese planes attacked the United States fleet, said he views Dec. 7 as the Day of Infamy.
“I think it’s an anniversary of what could happen in this country if we’re not always vigilant about foreign affairs and our relationships with our less friendly countries,” said Clason, a retired Naval officer. “I view it as the Day of Infamy and as a bad thing that could happen to this country yet again.”
For Pfyl, Pearl Harbor is more than just a childhood memory.
An Air Force pilot during World War II, Pfyl observed the aftermath of the 1941 bombing first-hand.
“Dec. 7 is when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and at that time I was in the United States and I was training in a B-25 unit,” he said. “Just after that, I was shipped overseas to Hawaii and we went on down through the Central Pacific. I was not at Pearl Harbor at the time of the bombing, but we were just starting to gear up to attack the Japanese in the Central Pacific.
“I observed all the damage the Japanese did mainly to the Navy at Pearl Harbor. I witnessed that after they had attacked. That was a week or so after.”
Most of the B-25s on the United States Air Force Base at Wheeler Field were destroyed by the Japanese, as were most of the ships at Pearl Harbor.
In retrospect, Pfyl said the United States is lucky the Japanese did not seize the Hawaiian Islands.
“As I look back on it, the Japanese did a very dumb thing because they were out there in the Pacific and if they had continued to attack they could have taken the Hawaiian Islands because we weren’t really geared up to protect them at that time,” he said. “We were very lucky they didn’t attack Hawaii because we didn’t have anything to shoot at them with, really.”
A few years later, Pfyl participated in another historic event.
“Our group was at Central Pacific and we made the attack on Tarawa,” Pfyl said. “That was the first B-25 group or any group that took action against the Japanese. From that island, we bombed all the Japanese-held islands in the Central Pacific and the Navy combined with the Air Force were able to take quite a number of the islands. When they took those out, we just moved from one island to the next.”
Pfyl and his group finally ended up on Okinawa, close enough to bomb Japan’s main islands.
“From Okinawa we could bomb the main islands of Japan,” Pfyl said. “At the same time, the B-29s on Guam were also bombing the Japanese.
“I was on Okinawa when the atomic bombs went off. We were making a bomb run on an airfield in Kyushu and we noticed a big geyser coming up. All of a sudden this thing got above us and we realized it wasn’t a (B-29). We didn’t even know they were going to (drop an atomic bomb). My group was the closest group who saw that bomb go off at Nagasaki. The explosion got bigger and bigger and when we found out about it, we just got the hell out of there and that was the end of the war for us. That was our last mission.”
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Christmas Engines for South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue and Lake Valley Fire Protection District will be out and about in December spreading holiday cheer.