The Star Tribune reports that Edward Wentzlaff, 95, still remembers a fateful decision he made on one of the nation's most fateful days. As a sailor aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, he chose to rush to his battle station even as his shipmates fled below deck to escape the Japanese air attack, the newspaper says. A Japanese bomb blew up the ship's ammunition magazine and 1,177 of his fellow sailors perished on the ship.
"I don't know why or what made me change my mind – I've never known," Wentzlaff told the newspaper.
The Worthington Daily Globe has the story of Worthington's Eugene Erlandson, who spent the night before Dec. 7, 1941, guarding the gate of Wheeler Field, 20 miles north of Pearl Harbor. He saw the Japanese planes fly over and then attack a fleet of P-40 fighter planes. "We had inspection the day before,” Erlandson told the newspaper. “All the planes were lined up right in a row — perfect targets."
The Duluth News Tribune has the recollections of Frank Wotring, of Two Harbors, who was in the engine room of the USS Helm 71 years ago today. His words are preserved in files at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Duluth:
“About then, we commenced to hear distant explosions and almost immediately after, the engine room messenger came flying down the ladder from topside, yelling that we were being bombed by planes with big red balls painted on them,” Wotring had said.
The newspaper's editorial urges readers to take a moment to reflect on Pearl Harbor and Dec. 7, a day President Franklin Roosevelt famously predicted would be "a date which will live in infamy."