The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 7, 2012

Veterans mark anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Keep, Finley hope to help make sure ‘day of infamy’ isn’t forgotten

OTTUMWA — Do today’s younger generations recall the incident that prompted America’s entrance into World War II?

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the destruction of the USS Arizona and the Pacific Fleet.

The bombing attack claimed more than 2,400 American lives and served as the pivotal moment in the United States going to war during World War II. But the number of survivors are dwindling, and official ceremonies marking the day are fewer and fewer.

And yet, there are still efforts under way to make sure the “date which will live in infamy” isn’t forgotten.

Ottumwa World War II veteran Dick Keep, 88, of Ottumwa, said he appreciated his granddaughters’ teachers offering lessons about World War II, including Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust in Europe.

Keep said he was one of the first soldiers to tear down the gates at a concentration camp that had a crematorium.

He also had to help take down 11 holding camps. One place still had 35 people in the camp, which was where Adolph Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” and used slave labor.

Buchenwald, another German camp, sickened Keep.

“It’s amazing. There are people who never heard of these camps and didn’t understand how humans could make others suffer like that,” Keep said.

He tried to bury some of the people, and the ranking lieutenant kept Keep busy because he could speak some German.

At one village, the townspeople — “every man, woman and child” — had to drag the bodies to the railroad cars for transport and burial elsewhere.

“We buried the bodies, and even the adult bodies weighed maybe 35 pounds,” Keep said.

Fellow Ottumwa veteran Earl Finley, 85, hopes younger generations will never forget the attack at Pearl Harbor. Although he did not serve in Hawaii, he did serve below deck on a battleship in the Panama Canal and Cuba area.

“The Japanese bombed the ship, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Finley said. “The Japanese bombers flew into the American planes.”

He’s not happy with so-called soldiers who ran off to Canada because they didn’t want to serve.

“The soldiers who stayed then had no one to lean on,” he said. “Those who ran off should have gone to serve like the rest.”

Finley also noted he had two older brothers who served during World War II, a younger brother who served during the Korean War and a son who was in the Vietnam War.

Will Finley continue to honor the Pearl Harbor anniversary?

“I won’t forget it,” he said.

On the web:

Text Only
Local News
  • Slain woman's boyfriend: I didn't kill her DAVENPORT — A married man who had an affair with a slain Wapello County woman testified this morning that he did not kill her. Jason Tinnes, a jailer who worked with the late Lisa Caldwell Techel, said their affair ended shortly before she died. Tinn

    July 22, 2014

  • 0723 OTT Grass photo -L -T Is your grass too tall? OTTUMWA — Do you let your grass grow to 12 inches before it's mowed? Do you park a vehicle in your front yard on the grass? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you could be violating the Make Ottumwa Shine Committee’s proposed amendment

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill OK'd for data recovery OTTUMWA — Almost a month ago, the city’s Engineering Department’s server failed. After receiving and installing the necessary parts, attempts to restart the server failed, resulting in a drive being shipped to Data Recovery Services in St. Louis in h

    July 21, 2014

  • Man killed in Wapello County BLOOMFIELD — A man was discovered dead Monday of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, but a press release said that at 1:21 a.

    July 21, 2014

  • Forensic scientist: Residue doesn't determine who fired gun DAVENPORT — A forensic scientist who testified today in the trial of a Wapello County man accused of murdering his wife said that gun residue should be collected if possible. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges o

    July 21, 2014

  • Welding academy at Cardinal becomes reality ELDON — Many high school seniors find themselves making the decision to pursue college coursework or enter the work force upon graduation. A new program at Cardinal High School (CHS) eliminates this decision by offering courses that will allow studen

    July 21, 2014

  • 0722 stick horse color photo -L -T -M 4-H Expo encourages creatitivy OTTUMWA — Typically during the 4-H Expo, horses are kept at the horse arena in Ottumwa Park, but Saturday kids galloped around Bridge View Center on homemade stick horses. Children at the expo spent Saturday morning creating their own cowboy vest and

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gunshot victim found dead BLOOMFIELD — A man was found dead of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Though authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, a press release said at 1:21 a.m. Monday the

    July 21, 2014

  • NEST program educates parents OTTUMWA — With any new job, you typically go through a training period that prepares you for the future. The Wapello County Iowa State Extension Office is offering both first-time and experienced parents helpful training through its NEST program. NES

    July 21, 2014

  • 0722 OTT hottest day map Heat arrives, but won't linger OTTUMWA — As hot as Monday and Tuesday seem, it’s not really a surprise. This is July, after all. A heat advisory went into effect at noon Monday and will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Forecasters think a front Tuesday night will bring much

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints