Buffalo Resident Earl J. Wickett Tells of Attacks 70 Years Ago
December 9, 2011
As the nation marks the 70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) recognized Earl J. Wickett a local resident who is among the approximately 3,000 living veterans who survived the day.
“It is a great honor to pay tribute to Mr. Wickett,” said Higgins. “This nation is eternally grateful to him and his fellow soldiers for his bravery, dedication and selfless service.”
Mr. Wickett was drafted into the U.S. Army on April 10th 1941. On August 13th 1941 under orders from President Cleveland his troop was transported via ship to Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft, assigned a 3 inch anti-aircraft gun.
On December 7th he was at Camp Malakole in Hawaii. At around 7:50 AM he was on his way to the first mass being held at the new building constructed for church services when he heard noise and aircraft fire in the distance. As a group of planes flew overhead he noticed the red sun symbol of Japan on the side of the plane and he knew at that moment that we were at war even though the declaration of war would occur the next day. He immediately turned around and headed back to help get ammunition to the machine gunners that were returning fire.
When he thinks about the incident today the first thing that comes to mind is the shock that everyone was in. It was unbelievable that something like this could happen. They were all on high alert because they didn’t know whether another attack from Japan would be coming. They learned a valuable lesson: never line up vessels. He said that Japan aroused a sleeping giant when they attacked the U.S.
After serving 4 years, 3 months and 2 weeks Mr. Wickett, retired from the U.S. Army earning the rank of Corporal.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor damaged or destroyed 18 ships and nearly 300 airplanes and led us into World War II. The event which killed approximately 2,400 Americans and wounded approximately 1,200 more is known as the “date which will live in infamy.”
Born on September 30, 1919, Mr. Wickett, who currently lives in South Buffalo, grew up in the Fruit Belt of Buffalo. He was married to his wife Margaret for 60 years. Together they had 5 children, 7 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Mr. Wickett has been active in the National Association of Pearl Harbor Survivors and attended a Pearl Harbor event at the West Seneca American Legion Post 735 recognizing the anniversary this year. This week the Congressman’s office presented Mr. Wickett with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in gratitude for his service to this great nation.