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Son Of Pearl Harbor Veteran Shares Father's Story

There are certain dates that are permanently etched into America's consciousness. December 7, 1941 -- the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor -- is certainly one of them.

Longtime Luxemburg resident Rich Cmeyla was a member of the U.S. Navy stationed at Kaneohe Naval Air Station when the attack occurred.

The 94-year-old Cmeyla, currently residing in a nursing home in Green Bay, was unable to talk to us due to health reasons, but his son shared his father's story with us. 

Jack Cmeyla says on the morning of the attack his father was on the second floor of the barracks, ironing his whites to get ready for church when he looked outside and saw planes flying really low -- unusual for a Sunday morning.

Jack says when the second wave came his father and two other men dived under a cable spool that was in a ditch.

After that Jack says his father helped put the fires out and attended to those who were wounded.

He says then they were ordered to take an unusual step. 

"They thought the invasion was coming so they were all ordered -- because the Japanese were all in white -- all the American sailors went into the mess halls and got coffee and they were required to dump their whites in coffee to brown them out, then they put them on wet."

Jack says more than a week went by before his mother Bessie found out that her future husband was okay. That news put their wedding on the fast track.

"He wanted to get married but she wouldn't marry him," says Jack. "Then Pearl Harbor happened and she didn't know for over a week whether he was dead or alive. After she found out he was alive she thought, 'I better marry him.' She realized she did love him." 

The two got married less than two years later in San Diego. They've now been married for 69 years.


Below is a copy of the menu for the 1941 Thanksgiving Day meal served at the Kaneohe Naval Air Station just a few weeks before the attack.


 

Photos courtesy of Jack Cmeyla

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