Remembering Pearl Harbor
INFAMY The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor is a living memory for Meridian's Don Martin, a metalsmith stationed on the USS West Virginia who survived the Japanese attack on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 7, 2000
Don Martin's battleship steamed into Pearl Harbor on his birthday, two days before Japanese bombs and torpedoes rocked the U.S. Navy base in a stunning sunrise surprise.
On the day his ship the USS West Virginia arrived at Pearl, Martin had "the duty," so going ashore to celebrate was out of the question.
His happiness was shattered less than eight hours later.
Then 24 and thousands of miles from his Meridian home, the Navy man waited for "colors" to sound, a signal the American flag was being hoisted. It was shortly before 8 a.m.
Within minutes of reaching his battle station, Martin heard the first torpedo hit, then felt its impact as it rocked the ship.
Martin and another sailor jumped over the port side of the ship and swam to a 50 foot motor launch floating in the bay.
The USS West Virginia sank in 50 feet of water. Of the 1,300 sailors aboard, 105 died.
Since that day, Dec. 7 comes each year to haunt Martin, who now lives comfortably on the edge of a much smaller body of water than the Pacific Ocean Dalewood Lake north of Meridian.
Martin pulls a list of the dead, their ages and addresses. Among the papers are other memorabilia from the USS West Virginia, from the day that, for Martin, will forever live in infamy.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.