Tucson reflects on Pearl Harbor

By Charles Ratliff

Arizona Daily Wildcat

After surviving the destruction of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Lt. Commander Joseph K. Langdell, U.S. Navy (ret.), said it is hard for him to make an objective decision on whether we should send U.S. troops to Bosnia.

So he conducted research on what others were saying either in the news or to him personally and came to his own conclusion.

He said we should not go.

Langdell was the chosen guest speaker for the annual U.S.S. Arizona memorial service that took place yesterday on the University of Arizona Mall. More than 200 World War II veterans, survivors and family members attended to pay tribute to "the lost lady" and the men who served aboard her.

The 81-year-old Langdell said he chose Bosnia as the topic for his speech because of its timeliness.

On Saturday, President Bill Clinton announced his intentions of raising the number of troops he will send to the former Yugoslav republic from 20,000 to 32,000.

Among the participants in yesterday's service, Mayor George Miller proclaimed Dec. 3, 1995, U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Day for the Tucson community.

"All of us this past year have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II," Miller said, "but, we are reminded today of where it started."

In giving his welcoming address Capt. J.P. Sciabarra, Commanding Officer Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, described the Arizona's resting place in Pearl Harbor from his point of view as a former aircraft carrier officer.

Sciabarra said as large as today's carriers are, there is only one narrow channel through the harbor the floating cities can safely navigate.

That channel, he said, would take his ship right by the memorial.

"On an aircraft carrier, 65 feet above the water, it is possible to look down and see the outline of the Arizona beneath the water," Sciabarra said.

Ross Dodge, event chairman for the Fleet Reserve Association said the memorial service held on the Mall has grown from just a few people attending 42 years ago, to today's attendance he estimated at over 200.

"I can remember when there were empty seats," he said. "Now look at it. It's really grown."

Others participating in the ceremony included the Navy League of Tucson, the U.S.S. Arizona Reunion Association, the Fort Huachuca Army Band, and members of the UA's Naval ROTC detachment.

Mike Low, the Arizona Memorial Student Union's assistant director, said the Navy Department donated a piece of the Arizona's superstructure to the Arizona exhibit on the Union's third floor.

The four-foot piece of rusted steel was unveiled yesterday, Low said, and will go on display after a case is built for it.

Read Next Article