‘I’ll always remember’: Pearl Harbor survivor & Arizonan Jack Holder remembers shock assault

Editor’s word: former U.S. pilot Jack Holder died Feb. 26, 2023.

What began as a peaceful Sunday morning in Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, ended as a horrible day in American historical past.

Few really perceive the gravity of that have like Chandler resident Jack Holder.

“I seen devastation there that I’ll always remember,” Holder stated. “It’s very vivid. I bear in mind it prefer it was yesterday.”

Eight a long time in the past, Japan launched a plan to bomb U.S. ships anchored
at Pearl Harbor, hoping to preemptively cripple the Pacific fleet. The
shock assault killed greater than 2,400 army personnel, wounded 1,100
individuals and broken or destroyed 19 ships, together with the united statesArizona.

One bomb hit close to the entrance of the battleship, touching off an
huge explosion that killed greater than a thousand sailors and Marines
on board.

The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress and
the nation in a speech: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which can
stay in infamy, the USA was all of a sudden and intentionally attacked
by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

‘We knew precisely what had occurred’

Holder is certainly one of fewer than 75 Pearl Harbor survivors nonetheless residing, studies the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

At first, Holder didn’t discuss a lot about his service within the battle, stated
shut pal Bob Dalpe, who met Holder 9 years in the past at a Battle of the
Halfway remembrance occasion on the Arizona Capitol in downtown Phoenix.

“That was his first time going to an occasion that talks about World Struggle II,” Dalpe stated.

Holder, who turns 100 Monday, didn’t discuss his service as a result of he didn’t suppose individuals cared concerning the battle or its veterans.

About 10 years in the past, Holder booked a spot on the Arizona Honor Flight to go to the World Struggle II memorial in Washington, D.C.

“We landed in Detroit, and there was a throng of individuals 200 yards
lengthy lined up on the tarmac to greet our airplane,” he stated. “Previous to
that, I didn’t suppose anyone remembered and even cared. However that modified
my thoughts.”

Holder grew up in East Texas through the Nice Despair. He was
impressed by his uncle, who flew a small crop dusting airplane above the
farm fields that Holder’s household labored, to fly. In April 1940, at 18,
he enlisted within the Navy.

He was ready – his father had been within the Military throughout World Struggle I –
however nothing might equip him for the assault he skilled or the
battles he fought.

Nearly a yr to the day earlier than the assault at Pearl Harbor, Holder
arrived as a member of the PBY Squadron VP-26, a patrol and
reconnaissance group that surveyed an space forward of a fleet’s arrival.
He admired the great thing about the naval base.

“You possibly can think about how stunning it was to a younger Texas boy that had
by no means seen something besides cornfields and cotton fields,” he stated. “All
the attractive pineapple fields, the attractive sandy seashores, all the
water, all the beautiful ladies on the seashores. It was a stunning place,
previous to December the seventh.”

On that day of infamy, Holder was on obligation at Ford Island, the place the
assault was concentrated. He stated he can nonetheless clearly see the face of
the Japanese pilot who shot at him and his fellow shipmates as they hid
in a sewer ditch.

“When the primary bomb fell at Pearl Harbor, it fell about 100 yards
from me,” Holder stated. “My part was within the hangar. The part chief
had simply began roll name when the primary bomb dropped. And all of us run
outdoors to see what had occurred within the explosion. We seen all of the
plane and this man with a rising solar insignia. We knew precisely what
had occurred.”

After the U.S. formally entered the battle, Holder flew greater than 100
missions, together with many who turned the tide in favor of the U.S. in
the Pacific Theater: the Battle of Halfway and the Solomon Islands
marketing campaign, together with the most important island, Guadalcanal. He additionally flew
missions within the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, on the coast of


Roosevelt stated the assault at Pearl Harbor would stay in infamy. Even
80 years later, it has. Many are commemorating the assault at Pearl
Harbor and remembering the lives misplaced that day and the sacrifices made

Commemorations and remembrances could also be much more necessary now, as
many World Struggle II veterans have died and few proceed to inform the
tales of the battle.

“World Struggle II is as distant for teenagers these days because the Civil Struggle was to
(Holder) when he was rising up,” Dalpe stated. “(Youngsters) must
perceive what this nation was like, what (veterans) did so that you can
have what you could have now. It’s a must to honor the sacrifices.”

In Arizona, the assault is being remembered Tuesday at the united statesArizona
Memorial Gardens at Salt River. From above, the memorial replicates the
dimension and form of the united statesArizona, which nonetheless lies on the backside of
Pearl Harbor.

Lauressa Thomas, a tourism supervisor for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa
Indian Neighborhood, stated the “gardens are actually a spot to recollect, to
pay respect, and actually simply replicate on Pearl Harbor and the USS

“Eighty years in the past doesn’t appear that lengthy,” she stated. “However a number of
our youth could not understand the impression that Pearl Harbor had. And I believe
the gardens are a fantastic place to try this.”

Tuesday at sundown, the gardens might be lit up.

“The lights symbolize all those that perished simply on the USS
Arizona,” Thomas stated. “To see over 1,100 columns lit up and see solely
about 330 not lit, actually helps individuals perceive the impression that simply
that ship alone had on Pearl Harbor and the casualties that we

Casualties Holder and different survivors hope will lengthy be remembered.