Sheridan residents rally in wake of attack

Just before 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, a Sunday, the Japanese attacked U.S. Military installations at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Sheridan Media reporter Pat Blair looks at how the attack affected Sheridan.

A number of Sheridan residents were serving in the U.S. military at Pearl Harbor on the morning that the Japanese attacked.

They included Walter Becker, a Navy man aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma, one of the ships sunk by Japanese torpedoes. Others were J. M. Dukes, a warrant officer on the U.S.S. Tennessee, Parker E. Sere aboard the U.S.S. Drew, and Robert L. Rawlings of Ranchester, a bugler on the U.S.S. Castor.

The Dec. 7 Sheridan newspaper apparently was published too early to report the Japanese attack, but a headline across the front page on Dec. 8 screamed in all caps, “NATION AT WAR.” That day’s newspaper also reported that, as a united Congress backed President Roosevelt’s request for a war declaration, 50 Sheridan men flocked to the Army and Navy recruiting stations to sign up.

By Dec. 9, that number had grown to 75 men at the Army recruiting station and 40 at the Navy.

Nor were the men the only ones eager to sign up for service. Twenty-two-year-old Georgia M. Williams of Sheridan, together with three women friends, showed up at the Army station declaring themselves ready to serve their country.

The newspaper reported that the recruiting officer was in contact with the corps area headquarters at Omaha to see what could be arranged.

According to information online, over 2,400 Americans, including civilians, died in the attack, and nearly 20 American naval vessels and over 300 airplanes were damaged or destroyed.

On Dec. 11, 1941, Nazi Germany declared war on the U.S. in support of their Japanese allies.

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