Retirement Ceremony of 
Chief Fire Controlman 
(Surface Warfare) 
Dennis A. Fain, USN

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Gallery 7: My Speech, and the Introduction of My Special Guest Speakers - Two Pearl Harbor Survivors.

After the flag ceremony was over, it was my turn to speak.  I was lucky to get words out, feeling so many emotions welling up inside me.  

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That day wasn't all about me though, it was also December 7th... Pearl Harbor Day.  Fifty-nine years earlier, at 7:55AM on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and 2,400 American men, women, and children perished.

I was honored to have two military Pearl Harbor survivors attend my ceremony as special guest speakers - a total surprise to many present.
 Remember Pearl Harbor Pin.  Click on it for a larger image.
The first to speak was BMC John Delia, USN(Ret), and he started by presenting me with a "Remember Pearl Harbor" pin that I promptly pinned on my lapel.  Chief Delia was onboard the yard salvage derrick at Ford Island when the attack began, suddenly finding himself BMC Delia's salvage derrick was moored between Battleship Row and Ford Island, in the lower right.  Click on picture for larger image.caught between the exploding ships on Battleship Row and the Japanese Zeros strafing our aircraft parked less than a hundred yards away.  He related a story about one of the three Japanese planes he salvaged a few days after the attack, that had crashed in the harbor near the Arizona.  Under his flight suit, the pilot was wearing civilian clothes, and had $864 in American money in a pocket.  Had he survived a crash or parachuted out, he would have quickly blended into Hawaii's large Japanese population!  John had to leave before he got to relate any more stories to us, in order to attend the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association's annual ceremony at their memorial on Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek.  The survivors meet at the local equivalent of 7:55 AM Pearl Harbor time to commemorate the moment the attack began, and pay tribute to those killed or wounded.  That's 12:55 PM our time.

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 BMC John Delia, USN(Ret) 

Next to speak was MSgt Albert Omahen, USMC(Ret), who took time out from his 82nd birthday to come to my retirement ceremony!  He was spending some time camped in a tent on a hillside overlooking the harbor, with a Marine contingent awaitingPhotograph of the harbor during the attack.  This is what MSgt Omahen witnessed.  Click on picture for larger image. transportation to Wake Island in the Western Pacific.  MSgt Omahen was one of many that day that were just far enough from the harbor that they first thought it was some sort of Army/Navy exercise.  Right up until a Zero flew by him so close that he could see the pilot look down at him, and he saw the "meatballs" - the rising sun symbol painted on the wings and fuselage of the Japanese planes.  Unfortunately, the Marines were too far from the harbor to help.  They could only watch, helplessly.  Less than two hours after it began, it was over.

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 MSgt Albert Omahen, USMC(Ret)

I deeply appreciate both men for taking time, on a day as important to them as it is to me, though for widely different reasons.

Note: Some historical photographs were found at the
Naval Historical Center website.

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