Pearl Harbor Survivor To Share Memories


A survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor will be sharing his memories of that event during an open house at Montgomery Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Taylor Springs on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 28, from 2-4 p.m.

Mr. Hartman, a 94-year-old Irving native and a resident at MNRC for the past year, will share stories from his book about his World War II experiences, as well as clippings on his family history, which traces back to early Irving settler John Lawrence Franklin. The open house will also feature items from the Irving Museum, where Mr. Hartman was a founder.

"I was a radioman striker," he said of his World War II service in the United States Navy.

He had enlisted with Irving buddies Bill Collins and Don Sturgeon when the three found out that the Navy had begun taking 17-year-olds.  Sturgeon and Hartman were 17 and Collins was 18, but the three had wanted to enlist together.  All three were sworn in on Dec. 9, 1940 in St. Louis.

He trained at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago and was sent to San Diego, CA, where he was assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Selfridge, operating out of Pearl Harbor.

"It was July 1941 so I got to celebrate my 18th birthday aboard my new ship," he wrote in his book.

In early November 1941, the Selfridge was sent on maneuvers  and to Canton Island, just south of the equator, where they would escort an Army supply ship back to Pearl Harbor.

"That tells me they knew this war was coming," Mr. Hartman said.  "Two or three days out of Pearl and within range of the PBY patrol planes we asked the supply ship to release us so we could get on into Pearl.  We had run out of food.  All we had was beans and hot chocolate.  The supply ship refused, so we stayed with her."

The Selfridge finally arrived at Pearl Harbor on the evening of Dec. 6, 1941, and anchored alongside the U.S.S. Case.

"They immediately brought five gallon cans of cold fresh milk, large packets of ice cream and our immediate needs on board, and we had a feast," he wrote.  "I slept well that night and woke up around 6:30 a.m. the next morning, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941."

Due to be at his radio post at 8 a.m., he dressed, ate breakfast, and headed for the radio shack to relieve the midnight man.

"As I climbed the ladder from the main deck, all hell broke loose," he remembered.  "I heard someone yell, 'they're torpedoing the hell out of the Detroit,' a heavy cruiser that was anchored behind us. I looked around and there were Japanese planes all over the place along with smoke, explosions and fires.  They sounded general quarters and ordered all of us to our battle stations."

His was the radio shack.  When he arrived, he remembered a sailor from San Francisco whose last name was Harwood, in his early 30s and much more seasoned than the teenage Hartman.

"Harwood could see that I was scared stiff, so he tried to calm me down," Mr. Hartman said. "He would tell me things like, 'Don't worry; if you get your head blown off, I will pick it up and set it back on.'  That was real encouraging to an 18-year-old."

Hartman said planes came so close "that I believe I could have hit them with a rock," he remembered.  "As one plane passed, one of the two Japanese in the plane waved his clasped hands over his head at us, rubbing it in."

Reports from Pearl Harbor were that the Selfridge fired .50 caliber machine guns and 1.1 machine guns, hitting four planes with two confirmed crashes.

Although the Selfridge wasn't harmed at Pearl, that would come later.  The ship was badly damaged by two torpedoes on Oct. 6, 1943, during the Battle of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.  The ship was repaired, sent back into action, and fought during battles at Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands.

Mr. Hartman married Hester Ann Morehead on April 15, 1946, in Mayfield, KY, and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy on July 13, 1946.  The two were married for 59 years until her death on May 16, 2005.  They were parents to four children: Barry Hartman, Jeff Hartman, Marianne Owens, and Steven Hartman, who died on March 10, 1999.

He retired from Phillips Petroleum and has served his hometown as a village trustee, helped establish the Irving Museum, and was involved in the restoration of McCord Cemetery.

He has been honored with the Studs Terkel Humanitarian Award and the Hillsboro Education Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award.


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