Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor


A U.S. battleship sinks during the Pearl Harbor attack. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on that Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, Jewish fighting men stationed there quickly responded to the call to repulse the attack. Ensigns Nathan Asher and Milton Moldane were aboard the U.S. S. BLUE, a destroyer that was at sea protecting the shores of Pearl Harbor. That morning, the BLUE was docked for refueling. The skipper of the destroyer was on shore and Ensign Asher was in charge of the ship.

Ensign Moldane was a graduate of the Washington University Law School and a native of St. Louis. Ensign Asher was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Both men were having breakfast when they were informed that the Japanese had attacked the battleships anchored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor and that they were to take the BLUE out to sea.

Asher directed the crew in heading the BLUE out. Moldane took charge of the forward machine guns and watched the ARIZONA, a battleship, take a direct hit and sink. He describes what he saw as the BLUE battled its way out to sea:
"I could see Japanese planes coming down about 30 or 40 feet over our heads. dropping bombs and shooting at anything that happened to come along. Our ship kept firing at the planes as it headed out to sea. I went out to the bridge to help Asher when we both saw a Japanese plane that the BLUE's guns had hit go into a pineapple field. The men gave out a cheer when they saw the plane burst into flames. It took the BLUE one hour and a half to reach the open seas."
At Hickam Field young Private Louis Shleifer, U.S. Army Air Corps, of Newark, New Jersey, was on his way to breakfast when he heard the sounds of airplane motors. He looked out his window and saw Japa- nese planes dropping bombs on the field and strafing American planes. Schleifer grabbed his helmet and his.45-caliber revolver and dashed onto the field to help the other men move some of the planes into hagars. As he was moving the planes, he saw Japanese planes headed his way strafing the men and planes before them. He drew out his revolver and kept firing at the planes until he was mortally wounded. There is a memorial fountain for Private Louis Schleifer in the garden of Temple Beth Shalom, Livingston, New Jersey. Every year on December 7, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association holds services at this fountain.

Lee Goldfarb, Jersey City, New Jersey, was a 3rd Class radioman on the U.S.S. OGLALA. He had just finished his watch at 7 a.m. and was preparing to get some sleep when he heard the sounds of aircraft motors. He looked out of his porthole and he saw Japanese planes at- tacking the seven battleships tied up at Ford Island, one ship after an- other getting hit with torpedoes. He went to his battle station to defend his ship against the enemy, when it was struck by a torpedo and sank.

There were many other Jewish fighting men at Pearl Harbor. Radio Mechanic 3rd Class Rosenthal gave his life aboard the U.S. S. CALIFORNIA. From Philadelphia, there were Alex Sherman, of the U.S.S. NEW ORLEANS, Ben Lichtman, of the U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA, and Irvin Greben, at the Naval Air Station in Kaneohe Bay. From Overland Park, Kansas, Stan Levitt was aboard the U.S.S. RIGEL, and Bernard Rubien, of Rancho Mirage, California, was at Hickam Field.

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