Arizonans remember the December 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor for the significant damage and tragic loss of life that occurred, but also for the tremendous courage shown by American servicemembers.
In a matter of hours, the surprise attack resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 Americans and 1,000 more were injured. Among the lives lost were 2,335 members of the U.S. military and 68 civilians.
Today, we share some of the stories of Arizona’s own veterans who endured this attack and defended our country.
Archie Kelley was assigned to the USS West Virginia after recently graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. During the attack, the West Virginia was hit with multiple torpedoes and it was Archie’s job to close the doors below deck to prevent the ship from flooding. In the end, his action prevented the ship from capsizing. Archie served 30 years in the Navy, retiring with the rank of captain.
Jack Holder enlisted in the Navy right out of high school. Jack and his PBY Aircraft crew had just started roll call on Ford Island when a bomb was dropped on the hangar right next to theirs. Jack and his crew jumped into a ditch with machine gun fire narrowly missing them. Following the attack, Jack would go on to fight in dozens of missions throughout the war.
Ed Miklavcic Sr.
Ed Miklavcic Sr. was on Wheeler Field during the attack. Over the next several months, the squadron was built back up to 25 planes and protected the Kaneohe Naval Air Station where the carrier planes trained. Following the attack at Pearl Harbor, Ed continued to serve in the Pacific.
Maurice Storck was assigned to the 3rd Engineer Regiment at Schofield Barracks. During the attack he was stationed at Waikapu and later went on to fight in Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. Today, Storck is the only living member of his entire division regiment to attend every reunion since 1950. He is also an avid volunteer at the VA in Tucson.
Marvin Rewerts served aboard the USS Thornton as a gunner’s mate. Marvin continued to serve in the Navy and just days before the war ended, his ship – the USS Borie – was hit by the last kamikaze plane to fly. Marvin received the Purple Heart for his service. After the war, Marvin and his family moved to Arizona. Marvin passed away this November.
Nelson G. Mitchell, Jr.
Nelson G. Mitchell, Jr. served aboard the USS Jarvis during the attack. Nelson was the last African American survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. His eight years in the Navy helped pave the way for African Americans to serve without restrictions in the United States armed forces. He also proudly served two decades in the civil service at Luke Air Force Base. Nelson passed away this February.