Remembrance ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Park both somber and light
Pearl Harbor survivor entertains Atascaderans
—Sounding very much in voice and tone like classic Hollywood entertainer Bob Hope, World War II veteran Lester Lindow spoke for an Atascadero audience of about 150 men, women and children with tales of his Pearl Harbor experiences. At the age of 94, Lindow, ever spry, couldn’t help but crack wise despite the disturbing memories of the Japanese naval fleet’s devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Atascadero Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hosted the Remember Pearl Harbor event on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial Park in Atascadero. VFW Commander Brian Ellis and Al Fonzi spoke early on, remembering that over 2,400 American Navy personnel, Marines, civilians and others were killed that day 75 years ago. They reminded attendees that the American military, defending the U.S. Constitution and the American people, still faces the challenges of “radical terrorists, foreign and domestic.”
A small clique of local World War II survivors, all in their ‘90s, sat in the front row raptly listening when Lester Lindow took the microphone after narrator Danny Martin introduced him. Lindow remembered how he and his buddies were planning to go surfing that morning, when suddenly a Japanese plane swooped down out of the azure sky.
Lindow was a seaman on the battleship, USS Maryland on Dec. 7, 1941. He was waiting to go ashore to swim and surf in Waikiki when the attack started. He manned his battle station at an anti-aircraft gun. After the attack, Lindow was part of the damage control team that rescued 49 sailors from the overturned battleship, USS Oklahoma. Lindow is in the famous picture of people walking on the hull of the Oklahoma.
Lindow has visited Pearl Harbor twice since he was stationed there in 1941. A surfer and a pilot from the early age of 13, Lindow continued to fly until he turned 85. He looks forward to turning 95 in April.
The remembrance included a radio enactment of what life was like for Americans during December 1941, and an actual radio clip of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was played in which we heard part of his famous speech, talking about Dec. 7, 1941 as “A date which will live in infamy [when] the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…”
The attack on Pearl Harbor, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, and led to the United States’ entry into World War II.