Local chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in danger of losing its charter

BRAD HORN/ Nevada Appeal File Photo Howard Spreeman, right, was a third-class aviation radioman at Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Hawaii. Roland Peachee, left, was stationed aboard the USS Rigel as the ship's cook, second class, at NAS Kaneohe. This photograph was taken in December 2007.

BRAD HORN/ Nevada Appeal File Photo Howard Spreeman, right, was a third-class aviation radioman at Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Hawaii. Roland Peachee, left, was stationed aboard the USS Rigel as the ship's cook, second class, at NAS Kaneohe. This photograph was taken in December 2007.

By Rhonda Costa-Landers

Appeal Staff Writer

It is a blunt reality that America's World War II veterans are quickly dying.

Many of the men and women who served in the military protecting freedom and life are in their late 80s and 90s.

Every day, there are fewer members of what has been called "America's Greatest Generation," those military individuals who entered service with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Carson City's local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is feeling the passage of time.

When chartered in 1972 by Howard J. Spreeman, there were more than 50 members. At the group's meeting on March 7, only three members of the 18 still alive were in attendance. Today, there are 16 still alive.

"I think it's getting to the end," said Spreeman, the chapter president who recently turned 87. "A lot of chapters are turning in their charter.

"We can still be Pearl Harbor people, but unless we have six officers, we have to turn in the charter.

"It's gotten to the point we're laid up or unable to do these things."

Spreeman and his wife, Rosalynn, 85, have been active in the chapter since he founded it. Rosalynn serves as secretary and chaplain. She opens meetings with prayer, keeps notes and "stay in contact with whoever I can," she said.

"It's saddening if we have to turn in our charter, but I understand. We'll miss it."

Roland Peachee, 92, is one of the oldest members of the group and serves as treasurer. Peachee was a cook aboard the USS Rigel, which was being overhauled at NAS Kaneohe when Pearl Harbor was attacked in the early morning hours.

What's happening to the local charter isn't uncommon, he said.

"It's happening all across the country," Peachee said. "It's just one of those things time takes its toll on.

"Nothing lasts forever, and I think it's time we gave up the charter. We're running out of poop."

Peachee said he does not feel the history of World War II and events at Pearl Harbor are being maintained in schools.

"The kids in school now don't have any interest," Peachee said. "When Howard would give them a talk, two-thirds of them are yawning or sleeping.

"With this new war we've got, one takes place of the other, and Pearl Harbor's phasing out."

Spreeman said only three members of the chapter attended the March meeting. He hasn't seen some members in years, and others are housebound or in the hospital.

The positions of president and vice president have to be Pearl Harbor survivors. Other offices can be held by family members such as a spouse.

"To some extent, it has kept us going," Spreeman said. "We're just running out of members.

"That's the way it goes," he said, matter of factly.

"If we have to turn in our charter, we do so knowing we've done our best."

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Inc. Silver State Chapter No. 1 meets at 10 a.m. June 10 at Grandma Hattie's Restaurant, 2811 S. Carson St.

For information, call Spreeman at 883-1842.

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

IF YOU GO

WHO: Pearl Harbor

Survivors Association, Inc. Silver State Chapter No. 1

WHAT: Chapter meeting

WHEN: 10 a.m., June 10

WHERE: Grandma

Hattie's Restaurant, 2811 S. Carson St.

CALL: 883-1842

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