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America’s greatest generation

Rhonda Costa
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

The group of elderly gentlemen proudly stood at attention ” some hunched over by age and poor health ” then they saluted the American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Nine members of the remaining 16 of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Inc. Silver State Chapter No. 1, held a final meeting Sunday just before 10 a.m. local time, respective of the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor shortly before 8 a.m. in 1941, at Grandma Hattie’s Restaurant.

Each member introduced themselves, the branch of the military they served in and where and with whom they were stationed.

“Roland Peachee, USS Rigel, NAS Kaneohe. We had no guns on board because we were undergoing an overhaul. But if we’d had more potatoes we’d have been all right.”

Peachee was 25 years old and a cook, second class.

“We couldn’t do anything but cuss ’em,” Peachee said of the Japanese attackers.

Dan Bowman of Gardnerville attended the meeting with his youngest grandson, Scott Bowman, 25, of West Jordan, Utah.

Scott was in attendance with his grandfather, who was in the 3rd Defense Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed at Pearl Harbor.

“He’s joined the Army and is leaving next month,” Dan Bowman said.

“I’m leaving Jan. 7 for Fort Benning, Ga., for basic training,” Scott Bowman said. “Then I have 52 weeks of advanced training for Special Forces. I’m excited to be here and I’m proud of my grandfather. He’s done a great service.”

Howard Spreeman founded the chapter in 1972. He was the first member and is the outgoing president.

“For years Rosie (wife) and I gave lectures at middle schools but stopped because we couldn’t handle it any more,” Spreeman said. “We also used to give $1,000 scholarships for the best student essay, but that will stop, too, because we won’t have the funds. Everything is stopping.”

The chapter has donated videotapes of interviews of Pearl Harbor veterans for history purposes at Eagle Valley Middle School.

“While I was in school in Wisconsin, eighth grade, Civil War vets came into my class,” Spreeman said. “I wish I had talked with them. So if someone, a veteran, goes into a class today, talk with them. You can learn so much more (than from a history book).”

Spreeman said the paperwork turning in their charter would be sent to Pearl Harbor National veterans organization. A plaque with the inscription, “REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR, In Honored Memory of the 2,403 who died on December 7, 1941 and the thousands who have passed since. Pearl Harbor Survivors Association – Nevada “Silver State Chapter No. 1” has been placed at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each member of the Carson City chapter also received a 3.75-inch by 7-inch plaque with the inscription.

Richard Budd of Minden served aboard the USS California as a communications yeoman at the age of 20.

“I think it’s time we turned in our charter,” Budd said. “Sure, we’ll still get together and have lunch, just like Howard said. I’ll keep in touch with him.”

“There is a great sense of pride when you talk with them (Pearl Harbor veterans),” said John Hurzel, owner of Grandma Hattie’s. “They are one of the most amazing group of people. I make sure they all have a special lunch on this day.”

Several veterans who served during times of action and some who did not, attended the meeting, as did several members of the Carson City Raiders Booster Club, who presented certificates of appreciation to chapter members in attendance.

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