Pearl Harbor survivor John Finn, 100, signs Dana Harbaugh?s custom Pearl Harbor motorcycle in 2009. His likeness and Congressional Medal of Honor are engraved on the motorcycle?s gas tank. On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn kept gunning at the Japanese Zeros even though he took 20 hits from flying shrapnel during the attack. "He?s a rock star in the veterans? world," Harbaugh said.
There were 2,403 deaths as the result of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Dana Harbaugh is out to see that their sacrifice, and the valor of those who survived, is never forgotten.
He has taken on the task of writing a coffee table book, setting up the website www.pearlsofhonor.com and using his love of motorcycles to outfit one in a Pearl Harbor theme and display it at events.
"It's become, like, my life," he said. "I have a duty to uphold this oath."
Harbaugh's affinity for remembering the tragic event stems from serving nearly seven years in the Navy as an air crewman. His service included Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
The oath he's sworn to uphold was made in 2000. That's when Harbaugh was teaching computer classes to older veterans in Southern California. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association met in the same building. He approached them, got hooked and eventually was made an honorary member. As such, he took an oath to follow its motto: Remember Pearl Harbor and keep America alert.
Harbaugh, 48, who lives just north of Summerlin, took his themed motorcycle to Mountain View Lutheran School, 9550 W. Charleston Blvd., twice and spoke with students. The decorated bike "was like a magnet," he said. A teacher later told him that all the children had gone on the Internet to learn more about Pearl Harbor.
He also has been interviewed on radio, spoken before the American Legion Post 149, ridden the bike in parades and made appearances with it at special events.
Ed Hall, 86, was a truck driver for the Army Air Corps at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. He said Harbaugh's devotion to honoring that tragedy would result in more people understanding its significance.
"It's not really taught in school, not enough," he said. "Many people don't even know where Pearl Harbor is or even what it is."
Harbaugh used his skills as a longtime photographer to take an estimated 30,000 pictures of the survivors at various events over the years. They, too, are part of his mission.
"Everyone would ask me for copies, and they all wanted different shots, so I figured I'd put them (the photos) in a book," he said.
That book is titled "Pearls of Honor: Their Duty to Remember." He plans to self-publish it and has had a sample printed. But he said its content still needs work and has no set completion date.
In 2008, he bought a new Harley-Davidson Cross Bones motorcycle and began having it engraved with depictions from that fateful day: a quote from Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto on awakening a sleeping giant; depictions of the vessels that were torpedoed and bombed; and the number of soldiers who died in the attack. The USS Arizona also is on it, seen in three stages -- as it looked at sea, how it looked after being torpedoed and the monument at Pearl Harbor. In all, 1,177 men died on that ship.
Sandy Steiner of Chrome Fusion and his son, Jason Steiner, did the hand engraving. Dwight Purcell of Purcellz Customz did the paint work. Shirley Zanelli of BadAss Seats did the leather work.
Sandy Steiner said the depictions took "a million and a half hours" to complete. He is an Army veteran, and while most of the shop's jobs are intricate, "this was the most engraving we've ever done on a motorcycle."
The bike was finished in 2009. It's been named Metal of Honor. Pearl Harbor survivor John Finn is 100. His likeness is engraved on the gas tank, as is his Congressional Medal of Honor. He signed the gas tank next to his image.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn kept gunning at the Japanese Zeros even though he took 20 hits from flying shrapnel during the attack. "He's a rock star in the veterans' world," Harbaugh said.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, he'll have Metal of Honor at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, he plans to attend Pearl Harbor Survivor Association events in California and Nevada.
Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 387-2949.
(Photo: Ed Hall, President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors, takes great care in helping these young Americans who volunteered to march in a recent Veterans Day Parade with the Pearl Harbor Survivors... teaching the young the virtues of Service, Patriotism and Loyalty comes naturally to all the Survivors)
We have decided to post a letter recently received from a 10th grade student from Brenham High School in Brenham, Texas addressed to the President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors... along with the response from the President.
Honor, Respect, Kindness, Thankfulness, Service... such virtues among many others are indeed still being taught to our youth in segments of the country.
Student Amie Meaux Brenham High School 525 A. H. Ehrig Dr. Brenham, TX 77833
March 22, 2010
Edward Hall Las Vegas, NV 89131
Dear Mr. Hall
My name is Amie Meaux. I am a 10th grade student at Brenham H.S. in Brenham, Texas. On February 18th of this year, Mr. Larry Cappetto came and talked to our school about the “Lest they be forgotten” program.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for your service to our country. It is because of your bravery during World War II that I am allowed many great opportunities.
Thank you very much for your service ot the United States. It is greatly appreciated.
Reply Letter from Silver State Chapter 2 President Edward E. Hall
Dear Amie Meaux,
What a wonderful surprise to hear from you! Thank for writing me. It delights me to know you have taken an interest in what took place at Pearl Harbor.
Our country is worth fighting for. America is the best there is. We must defend it to keep it free.
I will share your letter with the other members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors. It will delight them all.
It’s so nice to know you realize and appreciate (as I’m sure many others do.) the lives that were lost to make sure we all remain free and able to take advantage of our opportunities. Make good use of all that is offered to you and never forget the brave men that keep our country free. I would be happy to answer any of your questions and hear from you again. Thank you!
Edward E. Hall President of the Pearl Harbor Survivors
P.S. Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert!
Show your support for the veterans of Pearl Harbor with this classic Remember Pearl Harbor 8" x 3" bumper sticker.
Buy a Poster
Metal Of Honor full color glossy 36"x 24" poster comes rolled in a shipping tube.
$10 plus shipping.
Keep Metal Rolling
We now accept gifts/donations. By making a gift to the Pearls of Honor project, you are helping us to continue our efforts to educate the younger generations, and the young at heart, about the importance of Pearl Harbor.
PLEASE NOTE: We are NOT a non-profit and your gift/donation is NOT tax-deductible. We have the right to use these gifts/donations in any manner we feel is consistent with our stated purpose. Gifts/donations do not entitle you to ANY interest or ownership, including without limitation, in the project or in any resulting form in which we choose to use these gifts/donations.
Living with the Pearls is the blog of Author Dana Harbaugh. Dana's passion is documenting the activities of the Survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. His life has been enriched by knowing these true American Treasures and he wants to share their story with the world.
Occasional posts are made by others on the Pearls of Honor Team.
About the Book
Many books are available on all facets of Pearl Harbor, who knew what when, what happened the day of the attack, stories of individual survivors and many more angles but none chronicle the Survivors performing their daily mission to Keep America Alert.
Dana's upcoming book Pearls of Honor: Their Duty to Remember is a unique look into the hearts of the Survivors as they struggle to remind America of the price paid on the day that will live in infamy.
The book pays tribute to those Survivors (both living and those who have passed on) as we peer through the window of over 1,000 photos gathered during the last 8 years as Dana became a familiar feature at every gathering... snapping away with his camera. His friendship with the Survivors has allowed him to travel with them to meetings, parades, memorials and celebrations of every kind. During this time, he has come to know them and sees them as more than just symbols of history. They are vibrant men who care deeply for their country and constantly mourn the cost of freedom paid by their fallen brothers. Join us as we explore all facets of their duty to remember.
About Metal of Honor
Dana has also commissioned a complete custom refit of his new Harley Davidson Cross Bones motorcycle to serve as a rolling history lesson. Metal of Honor bears the names of all the ships and bases that were attacked, images of the USS Arizona and the Medal of Honor given to John Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, as well as numerous other images related to the attack. The bike will travel the country with Dana, and be shown at various events. Dana will also ride Metal of Honor in parades and escort details to help draw people into the story of these heroes.