Before the Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance began this morning, Maurie Hendrickson of Clatsop Post 12 American Legion sat waiting with a box filled with his friend’s hat, yearbook and personal notes.
His friend, Ray Lukenbill, died last September. He was a survivor of the Japanese attack in Hawaii, and the notes in the box detailed his time as a Navy man on the USS Tennessee.
“You can see sometimes his writing was concise, but others the handwriting is hard to discern — from fatigue,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson was one of the dozens who gathered to remember the 76th anniversary of Pearl Harbor at Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
The military strike by Japanese aircraft against the naval base at Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,400 military personnel on Dec. 7, 1941.
The remembrance, sponsored by Seaside American Legion Post 99, featured a Coast Guard flyover and wreath-laying ceremony at Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge. It was conducted by Spurgeon D. Keeth, who was stationed at the Army’s Schofield Barracks on Oahu during the attack and is the county’s last remaining survivor.
Seaside’s Pearl Harbor remembrance was driven by Bill Thomas, a seaman on the USS Medusa who died earlier this year. In the 1970s, Thomas moved to Seaside, where he rallied for veterans and proposed a Pearl Harbor memorial on the First Avenue Bridge in 2000.
Steven Gibson, the Seaside American Legion Post 99 commander, thanked those who served and called upon the audience to never forget the history that brought them together.
“I don’t want to make this a history lesson, but I think it’s really important to understand what really happened,” Gibson said.
Hendrickson, an Army veteran himself, remembers history through the memory of his friend.
“After the war he really wanted to put it all behind him,” he said. “He was a humble man, a quiet man — but you knew he had steel underneath.”