During the attack on Pearl Harbor, on that indelible date in American history, December 7th, 1941, a remarkable rescue took place. The rescue involved a sailor on the ship next to the stricken USS Arizona and six men stranded aloft on the burning battleship. It's a story of that shines forth a caring for one's fellow man and the value given to life.
The Japanese now were
And o'er the peaceful waters of Pearl,
A surprise attack upon our nation!
Of several, we've here a story to tell:
On a platformport, atop a shaft, 1
Of their mighty fortress and battlecraft,
They were at a station, the foremast high,
To protect the Navy from a hostile sky
From here the sailors directed fire,
The USS Arizona was critically hit!
A bomb had fallen to its starboard,
Igniting an inferno to rage on it!
So many perished where they were harbored!
To the dreadnought, it was a mortal blow,
A sitting duck in battleship row.
The seamen were trapped at that station height:
They couldn't get down, themselves to save...
The fire, the smoke, the hotness, the fright!
The heated metal, their plight was grave.
Then, the smoke did drift, and gave them sight...
Of the ship beside
preparing to get away and free.
They shouted down to throw them a rope! 2
A sailor named Joseph heard their plea, 3
And gave those stranded in peril hope.
To the Vestal, the vessel abreast,
They pleaded their woeful request...
And Joseph looked for a weighted line to heave,
To throw to them, for them receive.
Their distance apart , of these ships of fleet,
Across was nearly seventy feet,
And forty up, to the anxious eye...
With compassion, Joseph had to try.
An order to cut lines, he needed defy,
Or the sailors there would suffer and die.
Andthis sailor Joseph, Joe
Made a mighty throw
To the ship a-burning nigh...
And let the rope there fly!
He threw once, then threw twice,
And heaved again, the rope now thrice!
This time the rope was caught,
To stretch a line, from boat to boat.
Their venture yet with danger fraught:
For between and below, oil burned afloat!
The rope did sag, then ascend
On the rope attached to Joseph's toss.
While they were seeking a place that's safe
Because of the rope,thrown in strife,
These Arizonians now clung to life. 5
When the deeds of war are sung,
Think of the mettle of men,
anvil-shaped in forge,
And remember the one who flung
the sailor Joseph George. 6
It was a remarkable feat,
In freeing others his eye did meet!
Americans in their greatest need,
From the lightning strike, Japan decreed!
Lo Providence allowed
And Joe to be there, in that place that day,
To throw that rope their dangered way.
―A moment of valor to remember,
On that darken'd date!...of seven December.
1. Port is the left side of the ship while starboard is the right.
2. The USS Vestal (AR-4) was tied to the USS Arizona (BB-39)
3. The weight on the line was rope knotted around a ball of metal. The rope thrown that day, was attached to a heavier line, the one that was strung between the two ships, and carried the weight of men to safety. In the Glossary of Nautical Terms it's called a Monkey's Fist, a ball of woven line, to help heave a line.
4. Unknown for a long time for his action, Petty Officer Joseph George would eventually receive a bronze star, posthumously, with a "V" for valor, which was presented by the Deputy Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Matthew Carter on Dec. 7th, 2017, to his daughter Joe Ann Taylor, named for her father. On Dec. 7th, 1941, Joseph George was aboard the repair ship, the Vestal, moored next to the battleship Arizona, which suffered a devastating blow, when the forward magazines were detonated shortly after 8 a.m.
5. Nine were found named being at the battle station known as the port antiaircraft director, to which ten were assigned: Harold Kuhn, Donald Stratton, Lauren Bruner, Alvin Dvorak, George Hollowell, Russell Lott, Earl Riner, Fred Zimmerman and Frank Lomax . Stratton wrote about the attack in All The Gallant Men. When machine gun fire hit the starboard side of the station's steel enclosure, Stratton said Hollowell slumped where he sat, part of his skull gone. When port guns run out of ammunition, he said Ensign Lomax ran below decks to get more, the last he saw of him. This would leave seven of the named.
He also wrote, "The compartment we were in suddenly became claustrophobic,
and two of the men bolted out the door to escape." He never saw them
again. An attempt was made to discover the identity of other two
who went across the rope. In a published casualty list from
the Arizona, a Fred Zimmerman is found, while a Russell Lott and an
Earl Riner were listed as Arizona survivors on another list. Kuhn went
across he rope first; Stratton
was second; Bruner was fifth and Dvorak was last. So it would appear
Russell Lott and Earl Riner were the other men in that remarkable rescue.
Copyright © 2005 - John Riedell - All