Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Pearl Harbor Survivors Read

by Bill Doughty
What did Pearl Harbor Survivors read before and after Dec. 7, 1941?
Clark J. Simmons
Clark J. Simmons of USS Utah told me last week, immediately after the 70th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, “My mother was a librarian.  We did quite a bit of reading.  She inundated us with books.  I had three sisters and all of us were readers.  I would read anything I could get my hands on.”
Marshall LaFavor, son of Chief Warrant Officer Machinist Franklyn LeFavor, grew up in a Navy family.  “One of the first things we did when we went to a new base was check in at the library and get our library cards,” Marshall said.  “My dad was a big Zane Grey fan.  Being at sea for so long he said he wanted to read something with sand in his boots.”  LeFavor also enjoyed reading C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower books, and after the war he read Day of Infamy.
Ray Emory of USS Honolulu told me earlier in the year, on his way to a Sacred Tea Ceremony aboard USS Arizona Memorial, that he only had time for his ship’s manual during the war.  He distinctly remembered its oil-stained and sea-sprayed pages and mentioned losing it during action in the western Pacific.  Today, Emory helps write the books of what happened at Pearl Harbor; he is a champion of the unidentified casualties of WWII.
Delton "Wally" Walling
Delton “Wally” Walling, who happened to be with Watchstanders in the Shipyard water tower during the attack, even though he wasn’t on duty, also read only the manuals he needed be an effective signalman during the war.  “We were young kids coming in.  We had nothing, no supplies, no libraries,” he told me.  “After the war I wanted to try to forget.”
George Bennett, National Secretary of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which is to disband at the end of this month, said he enjoyed reading books of short stories and, after the war, about the history of what went on behind the scenes leading up to and during WWII -- especially about intelligence and cryptanalysts and code breakers who did so much to help Nimitz and Spruance win at the Battle of Midway and across the Pacific throughout the war.
WIlliam F. Howell of USS Phoenix, was a fan of Adm. Halsey during and after the war.  “Read Sea of Thunder,” he told me.  “Read about Halsey.”
Simmons, whose librarian mother instilled a love for reading, said, “I recommend history books -- all history.  And don’t forget to study math and science!

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