A 21-gun salute and taps honors the fallen 77 years ago during the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor.
On the day of the attack, the S.S. Pennsylvania wasn’t in the water, but it would go on to serve in the Pacific.
Guns from the ship that once smelled the smoke and burning oil 77 years ago, now rests in Pennsylvania.
“It makes it more meaningful because you can have, in you hands or in your view of a tank or the big guns of what huge material it took to have the freedoms that you have today,” said David Rhoades, Staff Sergeant, Tank Outfit, U.S. Army, World War II, State College.
David Rhoades, who’s called State College home since the 1950’s, played a big part in getting the guns to the Pennsylvania Military Museum.
Rhoades served in World War II as a Staff Sergeant in a tank outfit. He remembers his experience on the European front in Czechoslovakia.
“We got into a skirmish, and our tank track came off or got blown off. There was a lot of commotion going on.”
Rhoades says he and his tank loader Jerry began working to put the track back on when a barrage of artillery fire started again. The sledge hammer needed for the tank repairs was laying close by on the road.
“I said…’Jerry, I’m gonna go get the sledge and we’ll tap this track on’ and he says…’no Sarge I’ll go get it’…he said ‘I volunteer’ and that was the last words he ever said,” said Rhoades.
Rhoades was injured in that attack, but what stayed with him was the dutiful volunteerism that he’s sure was expressed by those in Pearl Harbor.
“You didn’t back up or run away. Everyone stayed there and took what you had to take, and did what you had to do. It’s as plain as words written on a piece of paper,” said Rhoades.
Or plain as a monument to a ship that silently tells the story of a day that sent the United States into war and preserves the freedoms we have today.