Remembering Pearl Harbor

Sonny Long

Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:07 a.m.
Updated Dec. 8, 2010 at 6:08 a.m.

Jeff Osterhout plays taps at the conclusion of Tuesday's Pearl Harbor service observed by the American Legion Post 166.

Jeff Osterhout plays taps at the conclusion of Tuesday's Pearl Harbor service observed by the American Legion Post 166.

Larry Chilcoat wants to make sure men like his late father, who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor 69 years ago, are not forgotten.

"Our mission is to not let America forget the first terrorist attack," said Chilcoat, a member of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. "After 69 years, our survivors of the attack won't be with us that much longer, and it's important that somebody pick up the torch and not let that sacrifice be forgotten."

Tuesday morning, Chilcoat opened the annual gathering of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

"We're here today to honor our survivors and remember the lessons learned from the Day of Infamy," he said

He joined Pearl Harbor survivors William Lockey of Victoria and D.D. Hill of El Campo, along with friends and relatives of the survivors at The Corral.

The group has been meeting there "for at least a decade," Chilcoat said.

Restaurant owner Albert Totah said, "It's an honor to have them here."

Shortly after daybreak Tuesday, Chilcoat and Sue Lindsey placed American flags on the graves of about 10 Pearl Harbor survivors buried in Victoria.

Lindsey's late husband, Gary Lindsey, was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Chilcoat's father, Joe Chilcoat, was a charter member of the local chapter of the survivor's association.

Also Tuesday morning, American Legion Post 166 hosted a brief ceremony in front of the Victoria County Courthouse.

Flags, held by a color guard, flapped in the cold morning wind.

"We are gathered here today to remember the horrendous events of Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. More importantly we are also here to honor and remember our fellow citizens who fought and died there," said Dr. Peter Riesz, post historian.

Riesz began his remarks at 7:48 a.m., the exact time in Hawaii that the attacks on Pearl Harbor began in 1941. After recounting the battle losses, he then shared some memories of by area veterans who were at Pearl Harbor that day.

"What better way to get a feel for that day than by accounts of those who were there," Riesz said.

Orby Ledbetter was among those in the color guard. He held the MIA/POW flag. While not at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, he was in the Army at the time, stationed in Brownwood.

"I was at the ammo depot," he said. "People came out there wanting ammunitions and guns and everything else, and I wouldn't let them have them.

"They thought the Japanese were going to attack Brownwood," he laughed.

Later in the war, Ledbetter was a prisoner of war in Italy for 19 months.

Near the close of Tuesday's ceremony, Riesz noted that with the aging of the World War II population, the memory of Pearl Harbor could fade.

"In not many more years, the events of that day will not be remembered by the editors of our newspapers or the teachers in our schools," he said. "The legacy of that day is being preserved by the local chapter of the Pearl Harbors Survivors Association and the relatives of those who were there."



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