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Monday, January 24, 2022

San Pedro Pearl Harbor survivor’s family won’t let the nation forget

Most have survived.

Less than 40 of the sailors who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 are expected to attend Tuesday’s celebrations in Hawaii to mark the 80th anniversary of that tragic day. His age is around 100.

What remains, however, will include other World War II veterans and family members.

Among them would be Caroline Brooks Wood and Robert Brooks, whose father, Edmund (Ed) R Brooks of San Pedro, survived the bombing when stationed on the USS Argonne.

This ceremony is not the first for him.

The siblings have made many pilgrimages to Pearl Harbor over the years, sometimes with their children and grandchildren. Eddie Brooks died on 13 May 2006 at the age of 87.

Since then, their mission—to ensure the legacy of Pearl Harbor, in all its horror, misery, and bravery, is passed on to future generations—has taken on an added urgency.

“Time is of the essence,” Brooks Wood said in a telephone interview from Honolulu on Monday, December 6.

It is up to the sons and daughters, and now the grandchildren, to keep the stories alive.

Underscoring that that year’s anniversary seemed to be a little less of a fanfare than the years before, his brother, Robert Brooks, said on Monday. He was present for the 60th, 75th and 77th meetings. They would have left in 2020 but the pandemic halted that journey.

Robert Brooks said he worried that as time went on, the deaths of the survivors of Pearl Harbor would dim the memories and shorten the chapters of the history book.

“It’s like they’re almost forgetting about us,” he said.

Still, the attack on Pearl Harbor—a day that would live in infamy, as then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it—will seem impossible to forget.

US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro will deliver the keynote address at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday, December 7. Separate memorials have also been erected throughout the weekend to the ships that were in port when a surprise attack by Japan forced the US into World War II.

On Monday, Robert Brooks, a longshoreman like his father, led a gathering of Pearl Harbor Survivors Inc.’s Sons and Daughters. Siblings and family members arrive on Friday, December 3rd for a full weekend of activities.

For Brooks’ children and many others, the annual trek to Hawaii to commemorate the attacks – which permanently sank the USS Arizona and USS Utah battleships and destroyed 188 aircraft – will keep alive the memory of 2,403 service members. There is also a chance of more civilians killed.

For the Brooks family, Pearl Harbor starred in a deeply personal story that was stirred up by their father—who didn’t talk much about it for years.

Eddie Brooks was a San Pedro kid who grew up tough, strong and fast. He began boxing at the age of 8, winning a gold medal in boxing at the age of 17 while serving with the National Guard. Robert Brooks said that when he was just 15, he ran 100 yards in 10 seconds flat.

He graduated from San Pedro High in the winter of 1938.

In 1939, Eddie Brooks joined the Navy.

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He was stationed on the USS Argonne, but spent most of the day before the attack, on December 6, 1941, on the USS Arizona, where a friend of his from San Pedro, Paul Niep, was stationed. After a boxing workout, they ate dinner and then everyone gathered to watch a movie – Eddie Brooks could never remember what he saw.

They caught the shuttle back to Argonne at about 10 p.m.

The next morning, Arizona was destroyed within the first 10 minutes of the attack at 7:55 a.m. All of Brooks’ friends were lost. Niep’s name, along with that of Eddie Brooks, is on the World War II memorial wall at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, where Brooks is buried. Niep is also named on the Arizona Wall at the Pearl Harbor Monument in Hawaii.

Argonne took a few hits but survived. The crew mobilized and sent a small rescue team, which included Eddie Brooks, to the USS West Virginia.

Eddie Brooks later recalled that some of the men were frozen in fear. Others were crying.

But Eddie Brooks was crazy.

“All Eddie knew was that he was crazy and wanted to fight,” wrote Robert Brooks years later of his father’s experiences. “They loaded their equipment into the motor whale boat and headed for Battleship Row and West Virginia. They were the first rescue craft to venture out into the bay.

“Three-quarters of the way to the bay, there are two Japanese planes with their machine guns wide open. Eddie turned to the two planes and waved his fist at them. He was abusing and with every other word. was praying to God.”

The scene was captured on camera and then reproduced years later in a painting by Robert Brooks.

When the motor of their rescue boat was shot down, the men were asked to lift the oars.

Robert Brooks said, “My father grew up with oars in his hands.” “His grandfather had a lobster business in San Pedro.”

Arriving at the bow of West Virginia, the crew members made their way to the wounded.

Robert Brooks said that his father told him that the sights he had seen that day were horrific.

By that time, the United States had stayed out of the conflict in Europe.

During a 1998 oral history interview for the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii, Eddie Brooks recalled the experience.

“We weren’t in war before. And all of a sudden, all these planes come here,” he said. “And they’re bombing, they’re diving and diving and diving. And the bombs kept going off, and I saw people crying. I have seen them pray.”

Brooks Wood, 71, of Sarasota, Florida, has put together a small book, “From Pedro to Pearl,” which she is selling on eBay. Saru’s 73-year-old brother – retired from ILWU Local 94 – wants to write a more in-depth book about his father’s experiences.

The family wants to keep the memories of Pearl Harbor – as painful as they are – alive.

Robert Brooks, for his part, remembers visiting the 60th anniversary in 2001, a particularly poignant moment because it came months after the 9/11 attacks. Eddie Brooks was there for him.

Robert Brooks said of that gathering, “There were still some Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans.” “It was right after 9/11 and there were some firefighters who were involved. The closeness between the survivors of Pearl Harbor and the firefighters was worth watching. ,

While there aren’t many people left at this week’s event, Brooks Wood said, she managed to find them, tape recorder in hand. She catches them as they walk near their lunch table or she watches them walk in the field with others.

“It’s a driving force in me,” she said, “to talk to them, to get another story.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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