Some Random December 7th Thoughts.

As most of you are probably aware, today is the 71st Anniversary of the Japanese attack

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial

on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War 2. You’ve also probably heard of the USS Arizona, a battleship sunk that day, and today home to a familiar memorial.

But are you aware there is another battleship lost that day? USS Utah, BB-31, was decommissioned as a battleship following World War 1, and was converted to a naval gunnery ship, pennant number AG-16. She was sunk on December 7th, and one of her crew, Water Tender Peter Tomich, earned one of the first Medals Of Honor of World War 2 by staying at his post, shutting off the boilers to prevent explosions and clearing the boiler room of all other crewmen. He remains aboard the Utah to this very day, along with 57 of his fellow seamen.

Also, today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last manned mission

Apollo 17 Night Launch

Apollo 17 Night Launch

to the moon. Four decades, since man has walked on a world other than his own, and no definite plans for any manned flights, other than a few highly speculative private-company offerings. If only we could mark this anniversary with a live broadcast from the first manned Mars mission.

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29 Responses to Some Random December 7th Thoughts.

  1. I was not aware of most of those facts.

    • Happy to be of service! A friend has suggested a possible series of posts based on my mania for little-known World War 2 facts – I just might have to take him up on the idea.
      Glad I could help, thanks for dropping in!

  2. tom says:

    Very informative. The moon walk absence serves as a griom reminder that we now have lots of self esteem, but our accomplishments are less than in the past. Give me a Loving Cup.

    • Some company claimed they were offering commercial passenger rides for lunar flights in 2020, despite the fact the lack a few key items – like a functional rocket! Though it seems that the ONLY way we’re gonna get back there is via a private company. I’m personally rooting for Elon Musk and his SpaceX firm, since he seems to be one of the few actually getting somewhere. Pity our governmental efforts seem limited to shooting off remote-control rovers. Maybe the NASA probe headed out to the outer planets will serve to restore interest ((and more important, funding) to NASA’s exploration efforts.

      • tom says:

        Musk has basically taken on the old McDonnel douglas Space team. If he suceeds in getting to the moon, I am sure he will have a fully government paid Fisker Electric car waiting for those getting off the Space ship.

      • Um .. his car company is Tesla, not Fisker. Right idea, wrong toaster! :D I knew some of the staff names looked familiar, I never bothered to cross check them – though that would certainly explain his greater degree of success as compared to his competitors. Shoot, if he can get us back up there before somebody else does (China, namely), I’d be willing to pay the extra tax bucks to get the pilots some new Teslas, though something tells me with Musk’s bucks, they’ll probably get more like Mercedes or Porsches. Kinda fitting, considering it was the Wehrmacht’s rocket knowledge that first got us into space and into the Moon! Danke, Herr von Braun! ;)

  3. aFrankAngle says:

    Regarding Apollo 17, I heard Harrison Schmidt speak once. Meanwhile, thanks for sharing the great story about the USS Utah!

    • I think it was Schmidt who commented just the other day that the only way we’d get back to the Moon would be via a private venture. As I said to Tom, it seems SpaceX is the only group that has it’s stuff together.
      You might want to bounce over to the Padre’s site, he has a write-up from two years ago about the Utah and two other ships that were on the “wrong” side of Ford Island. Glad I could shed a little light on a sadly neglected topic!

  4. fasab says:

    Great info as always. Well done.

  5. El Guapo says:

    The two events on todays date just remind me of the continuous path of man through history.
    Pearl Harbor (and the Utah) should never be forgotten, but equal space should be given to the other accomplishments on this day.

    Great facts, both int he post and the comments!

    • That is a very important thought, Guapo. Bound up as we are in our own history, we forget that December 7, 1941 was another day of Soviet troops fighting to halt the German drive on Moscow, that the Japanese were also attacking the Philippines and other Pacific targets, and that London was being blitzed even as Churchill heard the President’s speech. And so many other important things that have happened on the 7th day of December, throughout mankind’s history.
      Unfortunately for you, Guapo, I’m a WW2 freak, so you’ll have to find somebody else to feed your medieval or 19th century factoid appetite! ;) :D

      • El Guapo says:

        And yet, the tactics in response to the weapons make the Civil War the first instance of trench warfare. As well of a host of modern warfare techniques begun in that conflict.

        Just sayin… ;)

      • Oh, absolutely. The tank at the heart of WW2 blitzkrieg overcame the trench of WW1, which came from the murderous modern weapons of the Civil War, whose accepted “advance to contact” came from Napoleonic era, and so on all the way back in time. I remember reading one author who stated that there was only one World War, started in 1914 and ending in 1945 with a “brief hiatus” from 1918 to 1939 (or earlier, for the Chinese invaded by Japan or the Ethiopians invaded by Italy). It is all very much a continuum!
        Man, I wish you lived near me. We could kill SO much time in conversations like these!

  6. December 7 will always be a day I stop and consider, but those who were alive in 1941, like my parents, it is still a very charged memory. I have not previously heard the story of Peter Tomich. There were undoubtedly many heroes. I was surprised more people didn’t reference Pearl Harbor today…thank you!

  7. unfetteredbs says:

    I love your random thoughts.. educational ;) You are expanding my brain and that is very scary

  8. Elyse says:

    Sorry I’m late to chime in on this, John — I’m traveling. But thanks for the reminder of both things past.

  9. benzeknees says:

    Definitely went & saw this memorial when I went to Hawaii on my first honeymoon.

  10. swalia says:

    Informative post….thank you!

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