posted: December 9th, 2015 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: Seventy-four years ago I was at Pearl Harbor, and though I was but a few months old – I believe circumstances of the day make me a Pearl Harbor Survivor? At least that’s what I always told Mom and Dad as the event grew in my mind, and when we were all in a jovial and reflective mood.
At the time my dad was a captain, stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks. It was a Sunday morning and my mom asked my dad, “Why all the noise?” My dad (and I’ve heard the story often) told Mom not to worry, that the Air Force was probably conducting some tests at nearby Hickam Field. Nevertheless, he looked outside and much to his surprise saw a plane flying toward our civilian quarters, and doing so at a low level.
Suddenly the pilot opened up with machine gun fire, forcing my dad to look up where he quickly noticed an emblem of the rising sun on the underneath side of the wing. “Stay inside,” Dad hollered at Mom. “We’re at war!” Then he ran to where I was sleeping in the yard in a bassinet and grabbed me. In later years, I would joke, and say, “Why were the Japs trying to kill me?”
Immediately, the military was mobilized, and Dad and his command were directed to a beachhead with orders to thwart a possible invasion of Japanese from the ocean. Dependents, such as my mom, were directed to take children into the nearby sugarcane plantations and seek cover.
The date, of course, was December 7, 1941 and Japanese were hoping to destroy the Pacific fleet, but luckily most were at sea. However, the Japanese did destroy the Arizona and killed several thousand military service men.
In the aftermath, most service dependents were ordered to return stateside, unless they were locally employed. At the time, Mom was working as a secretary and was told her position was significant and that she could remain on Oahu, which she did until Dad was subsequently ordered to Guadalcanal. In 1943, Mom and I returned to the states, where my first memories of Dad were of him deplaning in Washington D.C… From a small balcony Mom and I looked out over a small runway and saw Dad waving at us vigorously.
Thinking back, that was my very first memory, but as the years went by and stories from Dad, Mom and their friends piled up, I came to believe that I could hear the bombs breaking and the sound of a Japanese pilot strafing our home with machine gun fire.
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
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Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy