LANGDELL, Joseph Kopcho


Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
20 November 1990

In response to Ensign Benji Abe, Japanese Navy 1941 who dropped a bomb on the USS ARIZONA, 7 December 1941:

"It is only by the grace of God that I stand here today to receive your wreath in memory of those 1,102 sailors entombed below us, those buried in Punch Bowl National Cemetery and the remains of four sailors in #4 turret who have died since December 7, 1941. They chose to join their shipmates. Casualties that day reached a total of about 1,181 men from the ship's complement of approximately 1,511 shipmates. 334 men survived. It was my fortune to be the one Junior Officer chosen from about fifty for temporary duty ashore. I witnessed your attack from Ford Island, about 100 yards from where we stand. Helpless, I watched your bombs sink the USS ARIZONA in nine minutes.

I speak only for myself. I cannot and do not speak for my fellow shipmates or for all those still living. Sentiment runs high, even today, against the Japanese Commanders and against our former President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his advisors. The Hawaiian Commanders were not given the clear picture of the situation as it existed December 7, 1941, or this needless loss of life might have been avoided.

I appreciate your thoughtfulness in coming here to memorialize our fallen heroes. Believe me, it took more courage on your part to present this wreath, than it does on mine to accept it.

Today, nearly 50 years later, both of us must realize that we are part of history. Each of us followed the orders we were given by our Commanders. Only future history can assess the wisdom of what was done here, almost fifty years ago, but, in memory of my shipmates, I thank you for coming."

Joseph K. Langdell, Ensign, USNR, December 7, 1941. Division 2, USS ARIZONA (BB-39)

Used by permission of Joseph K. Langdell
From "USS ARIZONA: The Life and Death of a Lady"

Information researched and compiled by I. B. Nease and N. A. Nease and provided on USSARIZONA.ORG free of charge.
May not be reprinted in any form, other than educational use, without prior written permission of the author.

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