Keeping history on Pearl Harbor
Howard Spreeman is the charter and current president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Silver State Chapter No. 1 in Carson City.
He chartered the group in 1970 and, at its peak, the group had about 50 members.
Spreeman was recently re-elected and will serve until April 2009.
Spreeman entered the Wisconsin National Guard in 1939. He was in a machine gun company and got a special discharge to join the Army Air Force, but it was filled up. He got into the U.S. Navy in 1940 and completed radio school in San Diego.
He was sent to Pearl Harbor in December 1940 when he was assigned to a patrol squadron, one year before World War II began. He was having breakfast when the attack hit Kaneohe Bay, five minutes before Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor.
“I stayed in the Navy until 1960, retiring after 21 years as a lieutenant,” Spreeman said.
He was last stationed in VR3, at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.
Today is the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which happened six months after Pearl Harbor.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Silver State Chapter will meet at 10 a.m. today at Grandma Hattie’s Restaurant, 2811 S. Carson St.
The Battle of Midway was a pivotal naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It took place six months after the Empire of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor that had led to a formal state of war between the United States and Japan.
How many members does the Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter have?
“We have about 18. Half of them are pretty much bed ridden. We usually have nine or 10 members at meetings.
How many military divisions are represented by the membership?
Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. We are open to every military person who was either at Pearl Harbor or within a three-mile radius of the island on Dec. 7, 1941.
Who is membership open to?
Primarily, we’re open to sons and daughters (of Pearl Harbor survivors) to carry on traditions. We have one daughter in Carson City who is our historian.
What do you talk about at your meetings?
Each person introduces themselves, what station they were on and so forth. We also have a binnacle list, our sick list, and we call them with updates to see how they’re doing and wish them well.
Do you go to public schools to discuss the history of World War II?
We did – last year was the last time I did. I’m 86 and just can’t do it anymore. I’ve taped a lot of interviews I’ve had and give them to teachers. We also give three, $100 savings bonds to the top-three essays on Pearl Harbor written by students each year.
Do you have any other comments?
I think the only thing is the fact, remarked by Tom Brokaw, that if there were to be this type of emergency today, Pearl Harbor vets would be the first in line to support the country. I agree with that.
Who is the person to call for membership or chapter information?
Me, Howard, at 883-1842.
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