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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Dec 7, 2016 4:39 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, December 7, 2016:

"A day that will live in infamy."  That's how President Franklin Roosevelt described December 7, 1941 when he asked Congress to declare war on Japan the next day.

It was 75 years ago today that Japan attacked the American Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor and airfields on the island of Oahu.  It brought America into World War II and must be considered one of the most significant events in American and maybe even world history.

More than 2,400 Americans died at Pearl Harbor.  Many survived the attack but 75 years later, only a few hundred are still living today.

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The second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Downing, 103./Denver Post

As Smart Talk commemorates the anniversary on Wednesday's show, we talk with one of those survivors.  James Downing is 103 years old and is the second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was stationed on the USS West Virginia but was at home getting ready for his Sunday breakfast when the bombing started.  Then Lt. Downing sprang into action only to find the West Virginia sinking.  Dodging Japanese bullets, he helped to rescue survivors.

Mr. Downing speaks to us from Hawaii where he is attending the 75th anniversary commemoration.

On Wednesday's program, we'll also learn about two exhibits tied to Pearl Harbor.  The Gettysburg Museum of History is honoring Lee Fox, a New Cumberland man, who was one of the first people killed during the attack.  Also, the State Museum of Pennsylvania has just opened an exhibit called Pennsylvania at War: The Saga of the USS Pennsylvania


Robert D. Hill - History Curator, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

The Pennsylvania was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor and suffered damage during the bombing.  Twenty-four crewmen were killed and 29 wounded.  The Pennsylvania was repaired but torpedoed two days before Japan surrendered making it the last major Navy vessel to be damaged during World War II.

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Smart Talk also features a conversation with retired Major Charles Redding of Ephrata who piloted a bomber.  Maj. Redding flew 69 combat missions in the Pacific Theatre.  In August 1945, he flew over Hiroshima, Japan and saw the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb blast that destroyed that city. 


Major Charles Redding (ret.)


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Erik L. Dorr - Curator, Gettysburg Museum of History

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