It is late November, 1941, and the men of Hickam Field’s 50th Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo to send home for Christmas.
These men could not possibly imagine that even as they smiled at the camera, plans were already underway for their demise. Nor could they imagine that some of them have less than two weeks to live. For those who do survive, it will be an event that will mark them for the rest of their lives.
One man who lived through the attack was PFC William P. Stroud Jr. (4th row, 4th from right in the group photo). A flight engineer in the 50th Recon Sq., Stroud was in the barracks when the attack began. (That barracks, just across the street from the flightline and hangars, bears to this day the scars of the attack.) Despite the madness of that morning, William Stroud kept his cool. Knowing where he was needed most, he raced across the street to the flaming flightline to lend assistance. The squadron’s aircraft were already destroyed, so he grabbed a rifle to get in the fight. And a fighter he was. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Stroud won his pilot’s wings, flew B-24s, and in his numerous combat missions earned the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Stroud, soon to be tested in battle, was identified in the group photo by his granddaughter, and it is a pleasure to single out and salute such a courageous young man.
It is well that we remember both those who lived and those who lost their lives that fateful morning. As the original owner of this photograph indicates with his annotations, some would not survive December 7th, but they were never forgotten by those who did.
~”They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: