Thursday, December 6, 2012


At dawn on 7 December 1941 more than half of the United States Pacific Fleet, approximately 150 vessels and service craft, lay at anchor or alongside piers in Pearl Harbor. All but one of the Pacific fleet battleships were in port that morning, most of them moored to quays flanking Ford Island. By 10:00 a.m. the tranquil Sunday calm had been shattered, 21 vessels lay sunk or damaged, the fighting backbone of the fleet apparently broken. Smoke from burning planes and hangers filled the sky. Oil from sinking ships clogged the harbor. Death was everywhere. The fleet in Pearl Harbor, the focus of the attack, suffered the greatest loss; almost half the total casualties occurred when the USS Arizona blew up. Army, Navy, Army Air Force, and Marine Corps facilities across the length and breadth of Oahu, from Kaneohe to haleiwa to Malakole, bore their share of death and destruction. Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows Army Air Force bases lost 217 men and 77 aircraft.
Among those killed in action is three Schuylkill County soldiers and sailors.

DECEMBER 7, 1941

A 21 year old Mahanoy City young man became the first  soldier to lose his life during the Second World War.

He was Jerome Szematowicz of 401 West Mahony St., a graduate of Mahanoy City High School.
Jerome was a chief mechanic in the squadron. He became an Army Air Corps Mechanic after completing courses at Chanute Field, Ill.
He was killed in action at Hickam Field, Hawaii, during the Japanese air assault on Sunday  December 7, 1941.
Jerome enlisted at Pottsville in 1939 and was serving with the 22nd Material Squadron.
In researching the action at Hickam Field on this day. It was reported that the first bombs dropped on the field killed a group of soldiers from the 22nd Material Sqd,, working on and trying to move a B-24 bomber. The Japs hit at 7:55 A.M., his squadron lost 27 men killed. The attack consisted of two waves of low level and high level attacks.
A flight of some 50 dive bombers and fighters struck Hickam Field. The first targets hit were the Hawaiian Air Depot's engineering building and the hangar area, where A-20, B-18, and B-17 bombers were parked wingtip to wingtip. With the large population of Japanese in the local community, sabotage had been feared more than an enemy attack; so instead of being dispersed and in readiness for immediate takeoff, the aircraft were bunched together in one place where they could be closely guarded. Consequently, they were easy targets for the Japanese, whose attack then widened to include the big new consolidated barracks and mess hall, the base theater (which was also used as a chapel), the post exchange, enlisted men's beer garden, and the fire station and guardhouse.
A total of 27 men from the squadron were killed in action on this day.

United States Army Air Corp.
Hawaiian Air Force, Hq & Hq Squadron,

- 17th Air Base Group, Hq & Hq Squadron
- 22nd Material Squadron
Station: Hickam AFB, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii
Casualty List: 28 KIA - 42 WIA*


John E. Burns a graduate of Pottsville Catholic High School in 1933 was killed at Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS Arizona which was sunk by Japanese Aircraft.
Weeks before the attack Burn’s family received a letter that stated  he was to be reassigned to San Diego for schooling in diesel engineering.

In early January his family received  the letter.

A telegram received by his parents stated,
“After exhaustive search it has been found impossible to locate your son John E. Burns, of the USN and therefore has been officially declared to have lost his life in the service of his country as of December 7, 1941. The department expresses to you its sincere sympathy.”


Seaman 2/C George Stembrosky, 20 who entered the Navy in September 1940 was killed in action at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Killed While serving aboard the U.S.S. Nevada BB-36..
George is buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

On December 7, 1941 At 0910 at Hospital Point, Honolulu the crippled 
  USS Nevada was trying to escape the harbor when Japanese planes concentrated their attack on it. Afraid that if the ship sank, it would block the harbor entrance, Admiral Pye ordered it beached five minutes after its skipper, Captain Scanlan, came aboard. The Nevada had three officers and 47 enlisted men killed, and five officers and 104 enlisted wounded. The Nevada was back in service
before the end of 1942.
The Nevada Beached 

DECEMBER 7, 1941
DECEMBER  8, 1941.


Pvt Edward Cullen Hq. Sqd. 11 Bomb Group, Shenadoah.
Pvt. Metro Stednitz, 18th Air Base Sqd., St. Clair
Pvt. Herman Chattlin, 12 th Signal Platoon Chief Telephone Operator. St. Clair.
T/Sgt. Harry Fetterolf, Mediucal detachment, Llewellyn.
Corp Norman J. Smeltzer..Port Carbon
Pvt. Clyde N. Seabold 18th Bomb Wing, Port Carbon
Pvt. Charles E. Goss, 31st Bombing Sqd. Port Carbon
PFC William Auer HQ. 5th  Group.
Pvt. Walter Barasha, 58th Bombing Sqd. Shenandoah.
Pvt. Peter Brunda, 23 Material Sqd. Coaldale.


Pvt. Fred W. Corbin Battery G 3rd Defense BatteryAshland.
Harvey Smith Jr….USS West Virginia.
John M. Roberts Asst. Gunner US Navy Pottsville.\
Oscar Welde, USS Cachalot.
PO Lawerence J. Ryan USS San Francisco, Mahanoy City.
WO. Richard Wagner, USS Louisville. Port Carbon
1/C Seaman Thomas M. Coogan USS Tucker, Port Carbon.
Pvt. Eaymond Klitsch 53rd Brigade AA. Pottsville
Pvt. Lamar Kintzel, QM Corps, Pine Grove.
Pvt. Joseph J. Yutgus HQ Battery 53rd Coast Artillery AA. New Phila.
Pvt. Alphonse Msedalis Battery 64 Coast Artillery. Minersville.
Pvt. George Klutchka 64th Coast Artilery Battery F. Minersville.
Pvt. John J. Knarr In telligence Battery 53rd Coast Artillery. Mahanoy City.
Pvt. Evert Hoffman 64th Coast Artillery Battery K, Locust Dale.
Corp. John J. Shuler Battery A Coast Artillery, Llwellyn.
Pvt. James L. Heim Battery E 64th Coast Artillery, Sacramento.
Pvt. Joseph Kentusky Battey K 64th Coast Artillery, Shenandoah
Pvt. Francis McDonald Intell Battery 54th Coast Artillery, Middleport.
Pvt. Albert A. Saluta Battery K 64th Coast Artillery, Shenadoah.
Pvt. Michael E. Delinko HQ Battery 53rd AA Battery Arnout’s Addition.


S/Sgt. Edward Covelsky 44th Pursuit Sqd. Pottsville.
Pvt. Michael E. Delinko 45thPursuit Sqd. Pottsville.
PFC Guy Hand Army Mechanic 741st Ordance Company. Schuylkill Haven.
Pvt. Francis P. Zigmund Mechanic in Air Corps. Port Carbon.
Corp. George D. Pollack 25th Material Sqdn. New Phila.
Sgt. John Kudlak  45th Pursuit Sqd. Marlin.
Pfc. Joseph Botto HQ Sqd. 18th Air Base, St. Clair.
Pfc David Fessler, 741st Ordance Company, Summit Station.
Pfc Charles A. Zelonis 18th Air Base. Shenandoah.
Sgt. Alfred Drabinis, 44th Pursuit Sqd. Middleport.


Pvt. John Weiss, Station HospitalPottsville.
Corp. Paul Smerko Co. F.35th Infantry.Minersville.
S/Sgt Vincent F. Seminsvage 35th Infantry Hq. BatterySt. Clair.
Pvt. Emil Sanilko HQ, Company 35th Infantry. Pottsville.
Corp James J. Whalen Co. I 27th Regiment. Mahanoy Plane.
Pvt. Anthony Gregonis Co. M 27th Infantry. Minersville.
\Pvt. Eugene Carlin, Company C 21st Infantry. Mahanoy City.
Pfc Mike Vengin, 1st Batt. 8th Field Artillery. Llewellyn.
Pfc Joseph Ondo, HQ Service Company 11th Medical Regt. Llewellyn.
Pfc George Schuler, Co. C 10th Infantry, Llewellyn.
Pvt. William J. Clery, Co. L 21st Infantry, Tremont.
Pvt. William A. Lesher,  Hq. Com. 25th Infantry, Ashland.
Pvt. John J. Coyne Co. E 3rd Engineers. Ashland.
Pfc Peter A. Vasura, Co. K 35th Infantry, Port Carbon.
Pfc Martin Peelman, Co. M 27th Infantry. Poret Carbon.
Corp. Edmond Lynaugh, Co. H. 77th Infantry ,Port Carbon.
Pvt.Donald F. Sorber Co. K 35th Infantry, Shenandoah.
Pvt. Paul F.Buckley Battery C 13 Field Artillery, Shenandoah.
Pvt. Robert Heisler Signal Company Aircraft Warning. Schuylkill Haven,
Pvt.Nick Latanishen, Co. B. 19th Infantry, Buck Run.
Pvt. Francis L. Edwards Signal Company Aircraft Warning, Hegins.
Pvt. Paul Ridgers, Battery A Field Artillery 24th Infantry Div. New Phila.

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