By STEVEN NALLEY
Born in 1935, Charles Weatherly remembers the end of World War II better than he remembers the beginning.
Weatherly, a retired alumni director at Mississippi State University, said he was only a child on Dec. 7, 1941, but all seven of his father’s younger brothers entered combat in World War II not long after that day.
“They were stationed in several of the theatres of the war,” Weatherly said. “Some were in the Pacific, some were in Europe, but they all got to come back. That was quite a celebration, when they all came back out of the war.”
Weatherly was one of several members of the Starkville Kiwanis Club with memories from or related to the day of the Pearl Harbor attacks, sharing them before and after their meeting Tuesday.
Rayburn Hamer, Jr., was in transit when he heard the news of the attack, traveling with his family from their home in Demopolis, Ala., to Meridian to visit his grandmother.
“We were all upset,” Hamer said. “I didn’t worry because I was only 10. My daddy was in his late 40s; we didn’t think he’d have to go, (and he didn’t.) I had an uncle and a cousin that went. My uncle was in the Marines, and my cousin was in the Navy. They all made it back.”
Charles Thomas, a retired MSU professor in poultry sciences, served with occupation troops in Japan in World War II’s aftermath. After he then served in Manchuria during the U.S.’s effort to prevent Communism from taking hold in China, he entered MSU, where he shared a room at Old Main with the late Jim Broyles.
“He was in Pearl Harbor at the time it was bombed and survived,” Thomas said. “He had a lot of colorful stories, but I couldn’t repeat them.”
Thomas said he also remembers where he was when he first heard the news of the attack. He was about 14 years old at the time.
“I was at my home in Ackerman,” he said. “I can remember sitting by the radio, which is what we had at that time, listening to FDR proclaim that we were at war. It was a memorable occasion.”
Not every memory of the Pearl Harbor attack ties directly to Dec. 7, 1941 itself. Ron Walker, retired from the MSU Extension Service, also served with the 1st Marine Brigade and was stationed at Kanehone Bay, Hawaii, in June 1961.
Shortly before his arrival, he said, Elvis Presley had held a concert, donating proceeds to the creation of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
“They had a dedication service for that memorial shortly after I got there,” Walker said. “We had a guy in the band — a trumpet player — whose dad had died on the Arizona. He was also a musician. He’s listed on the plaque that memorial.”
Walker said nearly the entire Marine band was killed on the USS Arizona.
The night before the attack, he said, they had held a dance contest. The trumpet player’s father was a bugle player, he said.
“Well, the powers that be found out about it,” Walker said, “(They) had that kid come and blow ‘Taps’ at the dedication ceremony for that memorial (dedication) service.”