Community members gathered at the Pennsylvania Military Museum on Thursday to mark Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Among them, a former Army Air Force pilot who lived through the attack.
State College resident Henry Mellinger, now 94 years old, was 18 when he was stationed in Hawaii. He said that he was simply standing around at the beginning of the attack.
“It was a pretty surprising attack. They blasted the place, killed a lot of people. I’m lucky that I didn’t get killed,” Mellinger said.
Thursday’s ceremony took place beneath the guns of the battleship USS Pennsylvania, which — like Mellinger — were at Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. The ceremony’s keynote speaker, retired U.S. Navy captain Jim Bloom, delivered his speech to more than 50 people.
Mellinger said he was appreciative of the support of those in attendance.
“Wonderful to have this remembered. It’s quite a tribute,” Mellinger said.
Bloom’s speech to the huddled crowd focused on the honor, courage and commitment of those who fought at the battle 76 years ago.
“No veteran, combat seasoned or not, need be ashamed,” Bloom said. “Yes, the servicemen who answered the bell this morning suffered a defeat, but the undaunted commitment and dedication of the American servicemen and women could not be long overcome. Despite the events of this day, we did indeed live up to Franklin Roosevelt’s promise to ‘win with absolute victory.’ ”
The ceremony has been an annual tradition for at least eight years and is organized by museum Director Tyler Gum.
“Here in the commonwealth, we’re obviously not at Pearl Harbor. We’re not at the actual battle,” he said. “So one way to tie the local populous — as far as Pennsylvania residents and citizens — to that time period is to come here to the Pennsylvania Military Museum at the base of the USS Pennsylvania guns and to pay tribute to these Americans who lost their lives from the attack.”
Bret Pallotto: 814-231-4648.