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The history of Pearl Harbor endures; veterans who experienced it scarce

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Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2008 10:00 pm

Sunday was Pearl Harbor Day, but many who were in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, have passed away, making it more of a distant memory to younger veterans in the Lodi area.

Several members of the Lodi American Legion and Lockeford's Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter say they don't know of any more Pearl Harbor survivors in Lodi.

There is at least one remaining Pearl Harbor survivor in the area. Joe Richter was at Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery on Memorial Day this year to tell about witnessing Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Richter said he was a scared 21-year-old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was soft-spoken and didn't have much else to say at the Memorial Day gathering.

World War II veteran Mary Galvan, of Lodi, says there are fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor survivors since they are now in their midto late-80s.

"A lot of them are old, a lot of them are sick and a lot of them don't want to talk about it," Galvan said.

The Lodi VFW, which folded recently and merged with the Lockeford post, used to have a special service to commemorate Pearl Harbor at the Lodi Public Library. Observances fell apart after Pearl Harbor survivor Bing Taylor died in 2003. Taylor was the city's unofficial historian on Lodi-area residents who served during World War II. Taylor survived the Pearl Harbor attack as a member of the Navy reserves.

Today's veterans focus more on their own military experiences than ones that came before them such as Pearl Harbor, said Bill Pfeiffle, commander of the Lockeford VFW, and Kenny Kramlich of the American Legion.

"It's nothing we're going to forget, but it doesn't quite hit home," Pfeiffle said.

But Korean War veteran Phil Jolly doesn't think older veterans forget Pearl Harbor Day.

"People today don't celebrate it that much," said Jolly, who lives in Lodi. "Most of the veterans of World War II and Korea still celebrate Pearl Harbor Day, at least in their own mind they do. It's certainly not something they forget."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 1:11 pm on Mon, Dec 8, 2008.


    God Bless all who served, passed away and still remain with us!God Bless America!

  • posted at 6:01 am on Mon, Dec 8, 2008.


    My father was a Navy corpsman on Ford Island at the USN Medical Dispensary right next to Battleship Row. He participated in the entire battle and earned a Purple Heart. I still have a letter signed by Ronald Reagan honoring his service. Dad later fought in the Pacific war at Midway, Tarawa, and others. He, too, is gone now, and would have been 89 this year. It was one of the most memorable moments of his life. Can you imagine??

  • posted at 12:10 am on Mon, Dec 8, 2008.


    We love you Uncle Joe. Thank you for fighting for our freedom.



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