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The Star Spangled Banner at Pearl Harbor

This is the hollywood re-creation of a scene that happened at Pearl Harbor.

Ship musicians of the USS Nevada were playing the “Star Spangled Banner” as Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, dawned and enemy planes filled the sky. The band completed the National Anthem even as machine gun fire rained down on the deck of the battleship.

Even under fire the musicians completed honoring the flag.

From Day of Infamy by Walter Lord:

“On the Nevada at the northern end of battleship row, Leader Oden McMillian waited with his band to play morning colors at 8 o’clock. His 23 men had been in position since 7:55, when the blue prep signal went up. As they moved into formation, some of the musicians noticed planes diving at the other end of Ford Island. McMillan saw a lot of dirt and sand go up, but thought it was another drill. Now it was 7:58 – two minutes to go – and planes started coming in low from Southeast Loch. Heavy, muffled explosions began building down the line… Enough to worry anyone. And then it was 8 o’clock. The band crashed into the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

A Japanese plane skimmed across the harbor… dropped a torpedo at the Arizona… and peeled off right over the Nevada’s fantail. The rear gunner sprayed the men standing at attention, but he must have been a poor shot. He missed the entire band and Marine guard, lined up in two neat rows. He did succeed in shredding of the flag, which was just being raised. The years of training had taken over – it never occurred to him that once he had begun playing the national anthem, he could possibly stop. Another strafer flashed by.

By this time McMillan unconsciously paused as the deck splintered around him, but he quickly picked up the beat again. The entire band stopped and started again with him, as though they had rehearsed it for weeks, not a man broke formation until the final note died. Then everyone ran wildly for cover.

“The Marine Bugler was likely representing Field Music Roy Rieck, who was the Duty Music of the Guard. Aboard the Arizona, the Duty Music was Don Edgar Hamel. After sounding Colors he was last seen heading forward to his battle station. The Marines has an Anti-Aircraft Gun. His colleague, Field Music Corporal Jack Bertrand Sniff was last seen in Marine berthing. Neither body was recovered.-(bugle info courtesy of Dave Boult)

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