By L. Fausz
Today, Dec. 7, 2016, is the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. On this day in 1941, at approximately 8 a.m. Hawaii time, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,300 Americans.
“It was a Sunday,” said Chesterfield County resident Sidney Morris Sings. “We had no radio or telephone at home. I came over to the service station [where I worked] and I heard the news on the radio. I boogied home as fast as I could; I thought they were coming after us.”
The following account if from the Library of Congress, “The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged. A hurried dispatch from the ranking United States naval officer in Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel, Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, to all major navy commands and fleet units provided the first official word of the attack at the ill-prepared Pearl Harbor base. It said simply: AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL.
“The following day, in an address to a joint session of Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 ‘a date which will live
in infamy.’ Congress then declared War on Japan, abandoning the nation’s isolationism policy and ushering the United States into World War II. Within days, Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States, and the country began a rapid transition to a wartime economy by building up armaments in support of military campaigns in the Pacific, North Africa, and Europe.”
In the days after the attack thousands of men and women flooded Army and Navy recruitment offices ready to leave their jobs and family to fight for their country. Sings was 17, and the following January, when he turned 18, he registered for the draft. He was drafted March 19, 1943. His first stop was Fort Jackson, S.C. and then to Ft. Bragg, N. C.; where he trained in artillery. “We were all the same age,” he said. “You did what you were told to do.”
Turning 93 in January, Sings is sharp as a tack. His memory is long and never thought any more about his wartime service when he returned home until 60 years later, when many voices were stepping forward to share their stories and knew he had stories to share as well. “When I came home, I put all my stuff in a safety deposit box,” he said. “For 60 years…then everyone started talking about it, so I got my things out to talk about it. I have talked to a lot of grandchildren about their grandfathers and they said their grandfather never talked about their wartime] service.”
As a Private 1st Class, Sings served as a Cannoneer in Battery C, 269th Field Artillery Battalion. He fought in battles at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and on his 21st birthday, fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
He was awarded the American Theater Campaign Medal, the EAMET Campaign Medal, the Victory Metal and five Bronze Stars. He was discharged Dec. 12, 1945. The war ended Sept. 2, 1945.
“I was on the first ship to come back,” he said. “My whole outfit was on the ship. It took us 14 days going over and around seven days to come home.”
In the five branches of service, 16,353,639 served during World War II. There were 407,316 killed or listed as missing and 671,846 wounded.