By Colin Foster
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words will never be forgotten, nor will the people who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack, which led to the United States’ involvement World War II.
This year marks the 72nd year since the bombings, and every year, Dec. 7 is a day to remember those who died or were injured in the attack with Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Days like the JFK assassination, the MLK assassination, the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers and the attack on Pearl Harbor — which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Americans and injured more than 1,000 — are events in American history that people will never forget. World War II veterans Bob Supinger and Charles Black remember the attack in Hawaii like it was yesterday.
“It was like getting hit in the eyes with a baseball bat,” said Bob Supinger, who signed on with the U.S. Navy in 1943 at the age of 17. “It was a snowy day, we were out playing football in West Covington in a big open field. Then when we went to dinner, we heard that they had attacked Pearl Harbor on the radio. It was quite a shock.”
“It was something that we never expected, it was a total surprise attack by the Japanese. The people of the United States were angered.” said Charles Black, a Piqua resident who served at the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nev., from 1945-46, discharging Navy members upon their return home from duty.
Like Supinger and the many people who were around when the attack happened, Black could trace his exact steps following the news. At the time, Black was a 14-year-old kid.
“My dad turned on the radio station WLW Cincinnati at about 8 a.m. and we heard President Franklin Delano Roosevelt report the news on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,” Black recalled. “I jumped into my clothes, and at 9 a.m., I ran east over the streets and through people’s yards to arrive at the Nazarene Church located on Gordon Street to tell a surprised group of people all about the terrible tragedy. No one had heard about it.
“The rest of the day consisted of prayers for people on Ford Island and on the ships that were bombarded by the Japanese airplanes. The news came slowly by radio and by the newspapers. Pictures were not available like they are today,” Black said.
Supinger joined the Navy’s aviation division on Aug. 13, 1943. His time in the Navy took him all over the Pacific to places like Japan, Shanghai, South Korea and he was in Tokyo Bay after the formal surrender of Japan in September 1945. Supinger, who said he comes from a military family, made a career out of the military. He joined the Air Force in 1946 and retired April 1, 1965.
Supinger and Black, however, were just two of the many people who served the country during World War II. According to Black, there were 20 graduates from his class at Piqua Central High that joined the service immediately following graduation. The attack on Pearl Harbor, they both agreed, was an event that really banded America together.
“The whole country really pulled together,” Black said.
“They had a lot of people join up (after the attack),” Supinger said. “They had some people who were underage that got their papers and got in. My dad wouldn’t let me go at the time.”
The stories of bravery and heroism from Pearl Harbor, the lives claimed and the injured, the destruction that unfolded — those are aspects of the tragedy that will never be forgotten. Today is a time to honor the people involved in one of the biggest tragedies to ever happen on American soil.
“World War II changed the lives of the whole world’s peoples, as it terminated by the dropping of atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945,” Black said. “Memories of the terrible loss of life and injury to our American military forces, and the lives terminated instantly by the atomic bombs in Japan are never forgotten.”