Upholding the Oath... A Duty to Remember.

Filed under: by: PearlsofHonor

Today, December 7th, 2012 marks the one year anniversary since the members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) last officially participated in a "Pearl Harbor Day" of remembrance.

One year ago, the National Chapter of the PHSA voted to not renew their status as a Congressionally chartered organization... believing that 70 years of carrying out their solemn oath to "Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert" was long enough... noting their members' declining health, or lack of mobility and most of all, too much bureaucratic paperwork required to keep the organization legally operating.

And with those sad facts, nearly all of the remaining local PHSA Chapters across the nation dissolved their organizations... while a select few opted to continue their efforts in an unofficial capacity for as long as their members deemed it possible.

As for my part, I believe my body of work over the past 13 years in support of the PHSA as an Honorary Member speaks for itself… at least when asked if I upheld my duties to their cause…

… and since acting as a duty-bound Honorary Member, I've held my personal opinions and commentary to myself with regards to my experiences as a whole… as far as any Internet blogging is concerned.

But now, I believe it’s time to take this wonderful tool that the Pearls of Honor.com website is… in a different direction.

When I was first being sworn-in as an Honorary Member, part of my oath was to “Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert”… a saying I kept coming back to over and over… and asking myself…

“Keep America Alert”... “Alert to what?”

A rhetorical question you say?... not so fast.  

Properly, a rhetorical question is one in which the person asking the question does not actually hope for an answer. (Source)

I do.

Late in the year 2000, as I was being sworn-in as a new Honorary Member of the San Diego PHSA Chapter, I was also acting as a contributing editor to the San Diego-based monthly newspaper The Veterans Journal… a local paper with quite a few devoted veteran readers.

The owner and Managing Editor, David Brown (may he Rest in Peace) gave me wide latitude in offering up whatever topics and information I thought our readers would be interested in.

Given this opportunity, and being pestered by this nagging question noted above, I initiated a series of monthly articles entited… “Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert… Alert to What?”

I was implicitly asking each and every veteran if they could name any of the myriad specific threats this nation faced. 

Remember… this was early 2001.

The series was based upon my premise that many of the veterans I had met in the broader veteran community were very well-versed on all-things relating to the day to day issues with veterans affairs across the nation, but it seemed as though few if any were concerned with, or followed with any interest, the myriad national security issues I had been following ever since my service in the Navy in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Cyber warfare?... what’s that?  Chinese Omni-directional Warfare?... what’s that?  Transnational threats defined as radical Islamic terror groups colluding with international narco-traffickers?... never heard of such a thing.

Each month I provided top-notch, national security think-tank articles for our veteran readers… knowing two things at that time; most older veterans were either completely computer illiterate, or were just beginning their quests into cyberspace… and, that nowhere else would they find such things in print while at their favorite barber shop, or while waiting for the V.A. bureaucrats to call their number.

Just as we were getting ready to send our October edition to the printers, a relatively unknown group of people from the “religion of peace” slaughtered a few thousand Americans who were similarly unaware of such ‘transnational threats”.

“Keep America Alert to What?”… “I Rest My Case!”… was all I wrote… 

...in large print… superimposed over a full-page photo of the 600 mph airliner mere feet from the second tower.

Soon thereafter, The Veterans Journal took a massive shift in direction.

“Operation Homefront” was launched… an idea I conceived of just days after hearing the news that President Bush was ordering military troops to Afghanistan.

Having served in combat during Operation Desert Storm, my first thoughts were… “Those troops need to focus solely on the mission at hand… and they can’t do so if they’re worried about their wife and family back home.”

Hammering out the idea with David Brown, I began pestering the producer of the Roger Hedgecock Radio Show in San Diego with multiple emails… finally getting a response a week or so later.

Coaxing David into explaining the idea live on the radio… we hoped to have local businesses provide discounts to the families of those deployed overseas… such as help with a broken-down auto transmission, or help with home computer issues or any other discounts available.  

The phones in our office began ringing off the hook as soon as the idea hit the airwaves.

As with many great ideas, close associates often become traitors to the cause.  

Within a few weeks, one such associate took the Operation Homefront concept and incorporated it as a non-profit organization behind our backs… effectively stealing the now-going concern.

Driven by incessant promotion from the radio host noted above, Operation Homefront flowered into a nationally franchised organization over the next couple of years, complete with politicians shuffling into photo-ops showing their support for the cause.

Just a couple of years later, I found out that the “associate” noted above was fired from the organization for embezzling funds, among other things, and learned that many of the organization’s staff were making 6-figure incomes… a complete affront to the founding principles of “supporting the troops.”

That fiasco, among others never interrupted my love and affection for the friendships and work I was so-honored to have with the Pearl Harbor Survivors.

Even after moving to Las Vegas, I soon found myself once again being sworn-in as an Honorary Member… going from the largest Chapter in the country that was San Diego… to one of the smallest, that Las Vegas was what with only 6 active members.

Just like the San Diego Chapter, I soon found myself becoming close friends with the Survivors… and providing as much help as I could with their various public appearances in parades and veteran events.

But all the while, I was hog-tied by the rules of the organization… just as so many of the Survivors themselves were.

As a non-profit organization, they were not allowed to take any political stances or make any kind of statements that might be construed as politically divisive while in their official capacities, and that made many Survivors mutter under their breath at meetings the things they so passionately believed but were not allowed to voice publicly.

Similarly, I too was not allowed to make any political or divisive statements while working with the Survivors… and could only sit back and think.

Doesn’t this seem all-so contradictory to the PHSA’s whole reason for being?

These true American treasures built a national organization devoted to the sole purpose of keeping America and its government free from having to endure another Pearl Harbor type event… only to be told by that same government that any pronouncements they made implying any failure of that government to focus on such possible threats would be considered political and/or divisive, ergo, off limits.

Regardless of the dissolution of the Survivors Association, I still feel beholden to my duty to carry out my oath to “Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert!”… just as I believe every former member of the US military is beholden to their oath to “Uphold and defend the Constitution.”

And with this belief, I hope to utilize this Pearls of Honor.com blog to provide readers with various articles and links to articles that I believe are important to know in order to stay informed of the myriad threats this nation faces.

But as for this posting… I will only say this…

As I have told many of the Survivors personally, I have been honored beyond my wildest imaginations with the gift of “Honorary Member” that was bestowed upon me for the past 13 years… and I will both cherish and long remember the wonderful friendships and memories I was so-blessed to experience over those years... 

... Traveling to Hawaii multiple times with the Survivors, attending veterans parades and memorial services, and most of all… just sitting down and listening to their words of wisdom as they reminisced over the years, and seeing their eyes light up as a young admirer asked for an autograph.

I hope and pray each and every Pearl Harbor Survivor and family member will have both a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

And even though I am now living in the heartland of America, I will continue to honor that oath to “Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert!”

With the greatest respect,

Dana F. Harbaugh

What are the odds???

Filed under: , , , , by: PearlsofHonor

What are the odds...

... that a Survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor... would die 70 years, TO THE HOUR, of December 7th, 1941... at 8:00am local Hawaii time? (see links to two associated articles below)

Photo: As I arrived at the registration booth for the 2008 Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) National Convention in Fredricksberg, Texas, the first two Survivors I met were Frank Curre (left) and his pal William W. Crawley, (right) as they warmed up their sea stories for the days to come.

Photos(2): It seemed like every time I tried to speak with Frank, he once again would be pulled away for a news media interview... and he sure put his heart into each and every interview.

Frank loved his oath to "Remember Pearl Harbor and Keep America Alert"... and fulfilled that duty heroically.

Photo: And once again, amidst the throngs of people gathered on Main St. in Fredricksberg, Texas for the official Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies, the news media had Frank tied down.

What are the odds???....

What are the odds,... that as I made my way through the thousands of people on the street in Fredricksberg,...

TRYING to jockey for position to take a photo of the Texas Air National Guard's F-16's as they raced down the street and performed the "Missing Man" formation...

that none other than Frank Curre would wind up in the foreground of the photo, pointing up to the F-16's at the moment of the break-off for the Missing Man tribute?

What are the odds?

The LAST Parade...

Filed under: , , , , by: PearlsofHonor


November 11, 2011 has turned out to be

the very LAST parade for

the Silver State Chapter 2, Las Vegas,

of the

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association

But they are not alone... PHSA Chapters across the nation have already closed down, or are seeing this upcoming December 7th, the 70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, as an appropriate time to close their books, and close their doors.

Even the PHSA's National Chapter has decided to call it "quits".

... And thankfully, the local Las Vegas news media were out early to get a final interview from the Survivors... Shown here, Las Vegas Chapter 2 President, Clifton Dohrmann may be a bit hard of hearing, but the wisdom and stories he tells most assuredly should be recorded.

I hope you will enjoy the following photos of Chapter 2's final official parade attendance... along with the estimated 40,000 spectators (source: News 13 Las Vegas)

... a snappy salute and a fond farewell are indeed in order.

(click photo to enlarge)

Boys Scouts from local Troop 430 arrived to march in escort of the Pearl Harbor Survivors

Providing his driving services for Survivors Hal LaLone and Ike Schab, retired US Navy LCdr Robert Reiter (green flight jacket) discusses final parade instructions with the Troop 430's Scout Master and Scouts.

One last group photo!... time to get in line!!!

Ok... Time to march... let's wrap up the interviews!

...But Ike KNOWS that his story is important... so just hold on a minute!

And their off!

...But the media thought one last interview with the President was important enough to walk alongside their vehicle as they recorded.
Chapter President Clifton Dohrmann enjoys the Scouts' personal escort.

Survivors Ike Schab (rear) and Hal LaLone (front) show off their huge smiles to all the families and friends waving along the parade route.

What a moving sight... taking photos from the motorcycle... I saw a man, who apparently was the son of a Pearl Harbor Survivor... standing alongside the parade route holding up his Dad's PHSA garrison cap and clutching a folded American flag.

Robert Reiter, LCdr USN(Ret) shakes hands with, and thanks Survivors Hal LaLone and Ike Schab for their service, upon finishing his driving duties at the end of the parade.
Is this the last time I'll see this view during a parade?...

Remember Pearl Harbor... and Keep America Alert!!!

Detailing with Honor...

Filed under: , , , by: PearlsofHonor

(Click on image for larger view)

What an awesome tribute!!!

Wizards Products, the leaders in high performance motorcycle and vehicle detailing products has honored us by placing a tribute to "Metal of Honor"... the Remember Pearl Harbor Tribute Motorcycle on the inside cover of their beautiful new 25th Anniversary product catalog.

True Honor, Fidelity, Love, Always

Filed under: by: PearlsofHonor

On Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, The Marine Corps League of Las Vegas became the proud recipient of a rare set of photos, donated by the President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Clifton Dohrmann.

Mr. Dohrmann was stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay as an Aircrewman flying aboard the famous Catalina PBY flying boats, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941

While stationed at Kaneohe, he acquired two photographs of a rarely-heard-of Marine Corps Unit called the “Horse Marines”… and listed in the photos as the “Beach Patrol”

Given that Mr. Dohrmann is quickly approaching the age of 90, he decided it was time to donate the two photographs to the Marine Corps League’s Leatherneck Club, wherein the Marines have a beautiful collection of historical photographs.

Mr. Dohrmann told the crowd of League Members that he actually thought he was a Marine at times, given the countless number of times he found himself working so closely with them within his five combat tours during World War II… throughout the South Pacific on remote islands, and during search and rescue operations at Guadalcanal.

Prior to the photo presentation, Pearl Harbor Survivor Clifton Dohrmann takes time to meet a World Trade Center 9-11 Attack Survivor, and Sgt-at-Arms for the Marine Corps League… a true American brotherhood A great voice and flair for recounting history, Clifton tells of his gratitude towards the Marine Corps during World War II. Each and every Marine in attendance found Clifton to be the true American treasure he is.
Upon completion of Clifton’s presentation, he was provided a beautiful “Challenge Coin” from the Marine Corps league, and…

So grateful was the crowd at the Leatherneck Club, that they unanimously nominated Clifton to be their newest Honorary Life Member of the Marine Corps League
A warm transfer of ownership of the photographs helped to round out the presentation
A standing ovation and gratitude from all in attendance
Clifton took a moment at the end of his presentation to pose with two other “Survivors”… these being Survivors of the horrific battle for Iwo Jima.

And of course, Mrs Dohrmann was the proudest of all.

SEMPER FI... Clifton!

Update on Survivor Abuse case...

Filed under: by: PearlsofHonor

The more we learn, the more infuriated the veteran community becomes...

Read this article...
Photo... Survivor Max Bauer, holding left side of banner... pauses with the rest of the gang from the San Diego chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association before the start of the 2005 4th of July Parade in Coronado, California.

Abusing those who provided your freedoms...

Filed under: , , , , , , , by: PearlsofHonor

Abusing those who provided your freedoms...

Pearl Harbor Survivor, found living in squalor... abused by caretaker...

Read the latest (Click here)

A picture of Max Bauer... Survivor off the USS Vestal, a Navy repair ship that was tied up next to the USS Arizona on the morning of the December 7th, 1941.

This picture was taken on the 60th Anniversary of the attack, in 2001, as Max stood and reflected upon the 1,177 Sailors and Marines that were killed within feet of where he was standing during the attack.

I've always wondered what Max was thinking at that moment.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin