- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 31, 2004

“I was shaving, getting ready to go to the beach,” recalled Navy veteran Frank Costagliola, 87, of Alexandria. “I didn’t get to the beach for five years.”

Mr. Costagliola and other veterans who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor remembered December 7, 1941, at the meeting of the Northern Virginia Pearl Harbor Survivors Association yesterday in the Bolling Air Force Base officers club.

“The minute I came up the ramp, all hell broke loose,” said Carl LaBarre, 86, of Alexandria. “It took three or four days to identify and bury the dead up on the hill.”

“We heard this big blast. We didn’t know what was going on,” said Steve Krawczyk, 86, of Manassas. “In the blink of your eye, we went from peace to war.”

The Japanese attack, which claimed 2,403 American lives, prompted the United States’ entry into World War II.



Not all of the memories are unpleasant. Jay Groll, now 82, a member of what was then called the Army Air Corps, met an ethnic Hawaiian girl from the nearby island of Kauai, who was working in a canteen. They were married on Aug. 14, 1945.

They are now known as “Grammie” and “Grampa” to two grandsons and two granddaughters, all in the military.

A national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was formed in the 1960s. The Northern Virginia chapter was formed in the late 1980s, said Mr. Costagliola, its first president. About 10 members attended yesterday’s meeting, one of four get-togethers every year.

The oldest member of the Northern Virginia chapter is Norman G. Lancaster, 90, of Arlington. A farm boy from Castalia, N.C., he got a law degree from Wake Forest University in 1938 and enlisted in the Navy.

Mr. Krawczyk, a native of Paterson, N.J., was 23 when he enlisted. “We were still in the Depression. All the kids had no place to go,” he said, explaining that a teacher urged them to learn a trade.

“That’s what brought me into the service,” Mr. Krawczyk said, adding that he felt safe in Hawaii because “at that time, they said Pearl Harbor was impregnable.”

Henry G. Dettmar, who will be 86 on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, remembered walking to a job at 7:30 a.m. December 7, 1941, “because there was some maintenance to be done.”

“When you got up there, you could see this whole force of airplanes. I thought they were friendly,” said Mr. Dettmar, who eventually rose to the rank of colonel. He and other veterans recalled that the first attack by 180 Japanese planes lasted more than an hour. After a brief respite, 160 more planes resumed the attack.

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