Remembering Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
My father, Joseph E Bendeck Sr., served on the battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) from 1941-1946. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was the only fully functioning battleship remaining in the United State Navy. Built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, it hastily finished its shakedown cruise at Newport, Rhode Island sailed through the Panama Canal (with just 1 foot clearance on either side) and steamed across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor while rescue operations were still underway on the battleships USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS Oklahoma (BB-37) , capsized at their moorings. A total of 18 US Navy ships were sunk or damaged that day.
Nicknamed “The Showboat,” she was the first battleship to enter the harbor in July of 1942 with her full complement of sailors on deck in their dress whites at attention in honor of their fellow sailors who had died in the Japanese sneak attack. The North Carolina was the most decorated battleship in World War II with 15 battle stars and survived a Japanese torpedo hit in 1942 while protecting the carrier, USS Wasp, losing four crewmen, but able to steam back to Pearl for repairs at 22 knots. The North Carolina is now fully restored and sits in Wilmington harbor in North Carolina, open 365 days a year to the public and serves as a memorial to the men and women who gave their lives in WW II, including 2,403 Army Navy, Marine, and Civilian Deaths on that “Day that will live in Infamy,” December 7, 1941.