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Pearl Harbor survivors vote to close chapter

RHONDA COSTA-LANDERS
Appeal staff writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Roy Parks speaks Tuesday morning just before the members of the Silver State Chapter No. 1 of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association voted unanimously to turn in their charter. The chapter, which included more than 50 members when founded in 1972, has now dwindled to 16.
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With just five members in attendance, the Silver State Chapter No. 1 of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association unanimously voted to turn in their charter.

“I second the motion,” said Roland Peachee, who is 92 and vice president of the chapter. “I think it’s time.”

The chapter was founded by Howard Spreeman in 1972. Spreeman, 86, was the first member and is the outgoing president of the chapter.

“Personally, I’m tired and ready to give it up,” Spreeman admitted. “But I’ll always be proud of the organization.”

There were more than 50 members when Spreeman started the chapter. At last count, only 16 members are living today, most of them in poor health and bedridden.

“We will still be Pearl Harbor members,” Spreeman said. “Just not in our own charter. We’ll be members at-large.”

Member Don Bowman, 87, a Gardnerville resident, has been a member for “several years.”

“My health has never been good enough to hold an office,” Bowman said. “I will be here for our annual picnic and come to the last meeting in December.

“I’ll also try to keep in touch with the other members.”

Bowman was in the 3rd Defense Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed at Pearl Harbor, standing guard when the Japanese attacked.

“I was just a private then,” he said. “I was made a corporal after the war and served in the Battle of Midway.

“I was then made a sergeant after Midway, and was one of the youngest appointed sergeant majors at 21 years old.”

The history of Pearl Harbor has been kept alive through members like those in the Silver State chapter. Spreeman and Peachee have videotaped their interviews with middle school students and other groups and made them available to schools. They also offered a scholarship to middle schools for essays written on Pearl Harbor by 8th graders. This too, will be laid to rest with the charter later this year.

“Eagle Valley Middle School is the only one who followed through on their interest (for scholarships),” Spreeman said.

The last $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Eagle Valley students Brittany Hill and Jessica Gordon, Spreeman said.

Funds remaining in the chapter’s account will be used to purchase a plaque to be placed on the Commemorative Wall in Washington, D.C.

“I hate to see our chapter go, but we need to do this,” Spreeman said. “In all the years we’ve done this, we made just one mistake. We got older.”

“It’s said, there’s a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die,” Peachee said. “Maybe this is our time.”

Spreeman will file appropriate paperwork ending their charter after the Dec. 7 meeting.

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