Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Relaxing ashore in one of the many bungalows not far from the nested ships of the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor, sailors on this Sunday morning were luxuriating in the warm tropical environs of a paradise that would soon turn into a killing field. Planes were heard flying along the island coastline, raising little interest in the minds of the sailors who were enjoying liberty ashore.

This story was told to me about ten years ago by a couple of Pearl Harbor Survivor veterans when I was asked to speak to their group. They continued to recount the events of that day.

The planes flying by the bungalows along the beach sure looked like Jap Zeroes! But, then again, these sailors had seen the Marines paint their planes to look like the Zeroes with the big red “Meatball” on the sides of the fuselage and wings. And after all, Sunday was often just another day of the week when it came to military training. Yet it was a bit unnerving to see these planes looking so much like Japanese bombers. Standing on the bungalow’s lanai the sailors could clearly see the pilots of the aircraft, and, dang! they sure looked like Japanese! Waves of aircraft were filling the skies now, flying by, heading directly for the ships berthed at Pearl. In a matter of minutes the thunderous sounds of detonating bombs captured everyone’s attention. Alarm bells exploded in their heads. In their haste to throw on their uniforms and scramble into the car some of the men forgot their wallets containing their ID Cards. At this point, returning to base was paramount!

Pressing the accelerator of the car as far as they dared, they rolled up to the gate practically skidding to a stop for the sentry. The Marine guard, holding his M1 Garand, was unwilling to allow these sailors to pass without their IDs. And you can hardly blame the Marine. At this point he didn’t know who to trust. The sailors attempted to explain the haste which they were in, needing to return to their ships. It was obvious to all of them that something awful was happening down at the harbor. The Marine seemed unsure, recognizing that a crisis was brewing, yet wanting to obey his orders in not allowing any unlawful personnel to pass. Finally, exasperated, the sailor driving the car announced to the flummoxed Marine that they were going to drive onto the base and return to their ship. So if he was going to shoot them, then start shooting!

The car shot forward aiming for the harbor. No one dared to look back to see if the Marine was drawing a bead on them with his M1. The Marine stood with his rifle raised but did not fire. What they found when they arrived at the dock where their ship was tied up was utter devastation. Their ship was already sitting on the bottom of the harbor. Thus, World War Two began for the United States of America.

Another friend recalled this same event from a different perspective. Isaura and I met this elderly couple while I was stationed as a Navy chaplain from 1984-85 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Southern California. George and Mamie Tintori had long been regular attenders of the Mainside Chapel on the base. We soon developed a lasting friendship and spent many enjoyable times together. They became surrogate grandparents for our girls, Laura (5) and Jenny (2). What a wonderful godly couple they were! They were loosed from their earthly bonds quite some years ago.

But one story they shared was their indirect connection with Pearl Harbor. George had enlisted in the Navy in 1922. Working his way up through the ranks, he became a warrant officer, and later, a commissioned officer, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. He was given orders to report to a destroyer, home based at the naval station in San Francisco. They were living in a hotel in the city while waiting for base housing to open up. So George says to Mamie one morning that his ship was going out on maneuvers for the weekend, but that he’d be back late Sunday and that she should plan to join him for dinner Sunday night. Well, it just so happened that the Sunday George was out to sea was December 7, 1941, “A day that will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt so eloquently stated. What is often forgotten is that Germany declared war on the United States the next day.

The next time Mamie saw George was four years later when the war mercifully ended.

America was hit hard at Pearl Harbor. Our military was at a dangerously low number having been downsized by Congress following World War One. What emerged from the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a resolve by a unified nation to not only strike back at an enemy that had attacked us without provocation, but to reduce that nation and their people to the point where they could not hurt anyone again for a very long time. The same attitude was aimed at Germany.

The Greatest Generation rose to the occasion and successfully defeated two daunting enemies, once again securing our freedom and liberties.

I fear our current generation might be called on to engage in a global war against Muslim radicals and their despotic followers. As our fathers and grandfathers did in WWII, this generation will undoubtedly step up and win the day for America and all freedom loving peoples throughout the world, crushing those who would seek to destroy us.

God bless America!

With the closure of the Ripon Record this month, my column, Roots in Ripon, will still be available on the Internet. If you would like to receive my weekly column, please send an email to and I will send my articles to you as an email attachment. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this column for the Ripon Record the past 13 years. Hope to reconnect with you by email! Blessings! Chuck Roots

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Go Niners! Please?

When it comes to football, I follow the trials and tribulations of two NFL (National Football League) teams. Those two teams are: the New England Patriots of the AFC (American Football Conference) East; and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFC (National Football Conference) West.

At this point in the season, these two teams could hardly be more different. The Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl Champions, and they are undefeated this year with a 10-0 record. The 49ers, on the other hand, are a weak sister by comparison. They are posting a dismal record of 3-7 with a weak team that is in desperate need of a few wins just to put a good face on the season.

There is a very good and logical reason why I am a fan for two teams. First, both teams play in different conferences. Second, I was born and raised in New England, yet I’ve been living in California since the beginning of my senior year in high school, 1965. Third, I was impressed by the loyalty to the 49ers by my brothers-in-law, Tony and Joe, have been die-hard 49er fans since the 1970s when the Niners were the 98 pound weakling in the NFL.

The last football game I can remember attending was in 1971. I was in the Marines and home on leave for Christmas. I stopped by the Oakland Marine Corps Recruiting Office to say hi to my recruiter. I do not remember his name, but he was a Gunnery Sergeant. We chatted for a while, at which point he asked me what I was doing the coming Sunday. I said I’d probably be hanging out at my parent’s home in Alameda enjoying home-cooking and watching a football game or two with my step father. He said he needed another Marine to fill out a four-man colors detail for an Oakland Raiders game. I jumped on the opportunity immediately! I looked forward to this because I would be wearing my Marine uniform at an NFL game marching with three other Marines while presenting the colors (American flag and California State flag). I was to be one of the rifle bearers. There are two who flanked the two flag bearers. In carrying the rifle you are to present the manual of arms which every Marine is drilled in during boot camp. It was great fun! I got to see the game for free standing on the sidelines, and to see players who are icons of the sport: Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Ben Davidson, Gus and Jim Otto (not related), Art Shell, Ken Stabler, Gene Upshaw, Phil Villapiano, and Carl Weathers. You may know Carl Weathers better as the actor who played Apollo Creed in the movie series, Rocky. A career-ending injury caused him to look elsewhere to make a living. Good choice going to Hollywood!

My brother-in-law, Tony, was here for Thanksgiving and asked me if I’d be interested in attending the 49ers-Cardinals game on Sunday. Would I? You bet! So it’s off to the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara tomorrow morning. It’s only been 44 years since I attended my last NFL game! If I wait another 44 years before going again I’ll be 111. I’m thinking that’s not going to work!

The happy crew that is going to the game besides me are: brothers-in-law Tony and Joe Cabral, daughter and son-in-law Jenny & Josh Sousa, and nephews Cameron and Matthew Cabral.

As much as I’d like to be optimistic about the chances of the Niners pulling out a win tomorrow, that’s simply not going to happen. The Arizona Cardinals are 8-2, winning their last seven games. One TV sports commentator made this remark when asked if the 49ers could pull off the upset. He just laughed! Eventually he said, “I suppose they could have a chance. Instead of winning by six touchdowns, the Cardinals will only win by four touchdowns. Sigh! Yet hope springs eternal.

In accepting going to the game I realized I would most likely not see the New England Patriots play on Sunday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. Well, at least I can record it and watch it when I get home Sunday night. Sure am looking forward to the Patriots extending their undefeated streak.

Even though a win by the Niners tomorrow is remote at best, I have always enjoyed rooting for the underdog. So, GO NINERS!