For some reason, I NEVER forget when the Seventh Day of December comes around each year.
December 7, 1941 sticks to my memory like glue.
I may not know what the date is on any other given day of the year, but I sure know when it is December 7th.
I had not yet even been born, but my Father had been 24 years earlier and was about to get the ultimate education of his life.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor came not only the deaths of the thousands which lost their lives on that fateful day in the Harbor, but the start of a war which would virtually never end and cost many more thousands of Servicemen to lose their lives in Countries all over the world of which many had never even heard of until they ended up in boats on the shores of those countries.
On October 10, 1941 Kenneth E. Hardesty was inducted into the Army where he served as a PFC in the 389th Air Service Squadron until January 2, 1946. He was my Father.
Published: December 6, 2012
By Jim Warren — email@example.com
Traveling isn’t easy when you’re in your 90s, but some survivors of Pearl Harbor say they will gather in Lexington once more on Friday to mark the 71st anniversary of the attack that drew America into World War II.
Vaughn Drake of Lexington and Jon Toy of Mount Sterling, both 94, said they’ll attend the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Association’s annual Pearl Harbor Day luncheon Friday, and they expect that fellow survivor Herman Horn, 92, of Frankfort will be there too.
Friday’s luncheon will include ceremonies to honor Pearl Harbor survivors and others who served during World War II.
The keynote speaker will be historian Thomas R. Emerson, a former assistant Kentucky attorney general.
Gov. Steve Beshear has issued a proclamation designating Dec. 7, 2012, as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Kentucky.
The commemorative buffet luncheon in Lexington will be held at noon Friday at the Oleika Shrine Temple, 326 Southland Drive.
Drake, Horn and Toy were young men when Japanese planes swooped down over Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, on the fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Now, they are among a dwindling few witnesses of that history-making moment who are alive to tell younger generations about it.
Drake said he apparently is the last Pearl Harbor survivor living in Lexington.
Toy, who heads the Kentucky Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, said there are only 10 survivors on the chapter’s membership list. There were 15 a year ago.
“There are a few others still out there that we don’t know about because they never joined the chapter,” Toy said. “But a lot of us have gone. We’re becoming part of history.”
Toy said the chapter once had more than 150 members. Chapter members continue to meet each year in the spring and fall, but it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to travel, he said.
The national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded on Dec. 31, 2011, after the 70th Pearl Harbor anniversary observance. Association officials said members simply were too old and too few to continue. Local chapters, such as the one in Kentucky, are free to carry on as long as they have members, but without the support of a national organization.
Eventually, Toy said, it will be up to the sons and daughters of survivors to carry on.
Vaughn Drake was a U.S. Army engineer at a camp on Oahu when the Japanese attacked 71 years ago Friday. One enemy plane, hit by gunfire, crashed near where Drake was standing, and he later recovered a small piece of the wreckage, which he still has.
“We couldn’t believe it, even though it was happening right in front of our eyes,” Drake said in a 1991 interview.
Horn and some other soldiers jumped into a truck that morning and headed for a distant anti-aircraft battery, planning to use its gun against the attacking planes. On the way, they had to stop repeatedly and take cover when Japanese fighters strafed them.
“We didn’t fire one shot. … We were very, very lucky,” Horn said in an interview a few years ago.
Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Kentucky has seven lakes suspected of having excessive levels of toxic algae, but state officials aren’t revealing which bodies of water are being targeted for a second round of tests.
Kentucky environmental regulators are drawing water from the lakes for a second time for more rigorous laboratory analysis after initial samples showed concentrations of blue-green algae worthy of health advisories.
Kentucky Division of Water official Clark Dorman said the lakes involved in the most recent advisory aren’t run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Five Corps-run lakes were the subject of a recent advisory.
Even though the state’s initial tests suggested health risks to the public, dogs and farm animals, state officials are declining to identify those water bodies.
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By BRUCE SCHREINER
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Canadian hemp processor looking to expand operations south of the border sees Kentucky as fertile territory for production and processing, but its top executive said Wednesday that questions about the crop’s legality have to be resolved first.
Hemp Oil Canada Inc. President and CEO Shaun Crew said the Bluegrass state is in the running for a possible plant in the U.S. to process hemp seeds. The company would look to contract with area farmers to supply seeds to the plant, he said.
The company, based in a town south of Winnipeg, is looking at other states including North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and California for the potential expansion, he said.
Crew, who visited Kentucky recently to meet with officials, said the state’s central location and heritage of hemp production would be advantages.
"This underscores what’s out there potentially," said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff to state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
The crop flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Before the company expands production into the U.S., there needs to be certainty that the plant is legal, Crew said.
"The whole situation on the political end, until that’s resolved it’s difficult to make any commitments at this stage of the game," he said in a phone interview.
"We need to have the legal framework in place for not only ourselves but so the growers have some confidence that if they put in a crop, they’re not going to have the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) swoop in and cut it down and burn it."
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill this year to allow industrial hemp to be reintroduced, but only if the federal government lifts its ban.
The state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, recently warned that if farmers plant industrial hemp in Kentucky next spring, they would be violating federal law and could be criminally prosecuted. Conway indicated he issued the advisory to state leaders, largely to protect farmers who might mistakenly believe it’s OK to grow the plant.
Comer, a leading industrial hemp supporter, argues that Kentucky law allows the crop and that the federal government doesn’t plan to prosecute to enforce its law. Comer says hemp could give an economist boost for Kentucky. The plant’s fiber and seeds can be turned into products ranging from paper to biofuels.
"Why in the world everybody wouldn’t want to jump on board for this is beyond Commissioner Comer," VonLuehrte said Wednesday.
Hemp supporters say their efforts to reintroduce the crop were strengthened by the federal government’s response to Washington and Colorado, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana last fall. The U.S. Department of Justice recently said it would not interfere as long as the states create tight rules.
Hemp Oil Canada’s products include hemp seed oil, toasted hemp seeds and hemp powders and flours. Its top markets are in Canada and the U.S., Crew said.
A new processing plant would likely start with about a half-dozen employees with the goal of expanding, Crew said. The plan would be to contract with area farmers to supply hemp seeds, he said. The company’s contract farmers in Canada typically net about $300 to $500 per acre, after production costs, he said.
Comer doesn’t expect large-scale grain farmers to shift to industrial hemp, but the crop holds potential for farmers with smaller operations, VonLuehrte said.
Crew said he sees tremendous growth potential for hemp products in the U.S. if the legal issues about the plant are resolved.
"U.S. legalization of growing industrial hemp brings so much more legitimacy to the market," he said. "I think the opportunities would flourish after that."
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Weapons armed with the same nerve gas used on Syrian citizens last month sit in grass-topped concrete bunkers at an Army depot in Kentucky, 20 years after the U.S. government promised to destroy them.
http://bloom.bg/18HxcNm VIDEO LINK
Canisters of GB gas, commonly known as Sarin, are shown at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky., in this Sept. 6, 2001 file photo. Photographer: Nancy Taggart/The Richmond Register via AP Photo
Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about United Nations and U.S. reports showing chemical weapons were used in Syria. Kerry, speaking in Washington, says the UN Security Council "must be prepared to act next week" to pass a resolution requiring President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to abide by terms of the U.S.-Russian agreement on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. (Source: Bloomberg)
The bunkers, in a field at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, house rockets and other artillery holding 523 tons of the nerve agents VX and sarin in addition to flesh-blistering mustard gas. A partnership including San Francisco-based Bechtel National Inc. is building a plant to destroy them. It will open seven years from now and will dispose of the last weapon there three years later.
This week, as international monitors learn the size and makeup of the chemical weapons stockpile Syria has pledged to destroy by next year, the Blue Grass stash stands as a warning: Safe destruction of chemical weapons isn’t easy.
- Securing Syria Toxic Weapons Confronts Months of Hurdles
- Assad Pledges Quick Moves on Chemical Weapons Elimination
Syria’s promised pace would be ambitious even in a country without a civil war, said Michael Kuhlman, chief scientist for national security at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio which is working on the Blue Grass project 30 miles south of Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky.
“I found the time frame for Syria surprising,” Kuhlman said in an interview. ‘They are presumably starting from scratch in terms of destruction capability and the security situation there certainly isn’t going to expedite matters.’’
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad affirmed his intentions in a Sept. 18 televised interview with Fox News. He said he would dispose of the weapons in about a year, with the guidance of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in the Hague, Netherlands. The group enforces the international chemical weapons treaty that Syria joined last week. The U.S. joined the accord in 1993.
Assad said he understood the destruction process is complicated and he’s been told it will cost about $1 billion.
The Syrian project’s speed will hinge on how much of its chemical agents are already inside weapons, as they are in Kentucky. The job is easier if they aren’t, Kuhlman said.
It will also depend on how the nation disposes of them. After the first Gulf War ended in 1991, Iraq burned its chemical weapons in a ditch. The U.S. imposes environmental discharge rules, and destruction of the Blue Grass weapons was delayed in large part because local residents opposed incinerating them and Congress forced the Defense Department to find another way.
The U.S. chemical weapons stockpile contained more than 30,000 tons of lethal chemicals when the country signed the international Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, agreeing to destroy all of the weapons by last year. By comparison, Syria is estimated to have about 1,000 tons, Kuhlman said.
The U.S. chemical agents were stored at depots in Maryland, Arkansas, Utah, Indiana, Alabama, Colorado and Johnson Atoll, a territorial island in the South Pacific, in addition to the 14,500-acre Blue Grass site.
The Defense Department had been experimenting with ways of destroying the weapons before the U.S. signed the treaty, including dumping some of them at sea. In 1984, the Pentagon and the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, endorsed incineration as the best method.
That, too, is a slow process, said Kuhlman. Construction on an incinerator at Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah, which held 45 percent of the nation’s chemical weapons stockpile, started in 1989. Testing began in 1994, and it became operational in 1996, he said. It took two years to destroy a supply of nerve-agent weapons that was similar to the size of Syria’s estimated stockpile. The entire Utah project took 15 years.
The U.S. met the treaty deadline at seven of nine sites, destroying 90 percent of its chemical stockpile. Most of the work was completed within the past few years.
The Blue Grass depot and a second depot near Pueblo, Colorado are the two left with chemical arsenals.
The cost of the entire disposal process, once completed, is estimated to be $35 billion, $10.6 billion of which will be spent in Kentucky and Colorado, according to Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea and the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives website, the agency responsible for destroying the weapons at the remaining depots.
The Colorado site has 2,600 tons of mustard gas inside more than 800,000 weapons. The 523 tons of mustard gas and nerve agents in Kentucky are inside 101,000 weapons, according to Craig Williams, 65, who is co-chairman of the Chemical Destruction Citizens Advisory Board for the Blue Grass project.
The Kentucky site has been storing mustard gas for years. The first shipment of nerve-agent rockets arrived in 1961, said Lloyd Anglin, of Berea, who worked on the depot’s engineering staff at the time.
The rockets came in a locked boxcar, which sat on a railroad spur for four days under armed guard as the engineering team rushed to build a facility “to unload whatever it was,” said Anglin, now 90. “The armed guards were there 24-7. Nobody knew what it was except the brass.”
The shipments arrived regularly after that and the team learned that they contained agents that would kill on contact. Anglin helped seal some of the rockets in concrete-filled caskets, which were then put on a ship in Wilmington, North Carolina and dropped into the Atlantic Ocean. Most stayed in the earth under grass-topped, domed concrete bunkers called igloos, which are laid out in a widely spaced grid. Deer grazed there and some died, Anglin said, if they ate too close to a monitor vent at a bunker with “leakers.” Security fencing around the area has since been improved.
A bunny hutch housed a critical part of the monitoring system. A trio of rabbits spent the night in any bunker scheduled for human inspection, which went forward if they survived.
“I would put one in the back, one in the center and one in the front, then leave them there overnight,” Anglin said. “The next day, if the rabbits were OK, we’d go in. Once in a while, you’d get a dead rabbit,” Anglin said.
The government no longer uses animals as air monitors, Elzea said in an e-mail.
Most depot neighbors knew nothing of the weapons. They learned of their existence after the Defense Department announced plans to incinerate the deadly chemicals in 1984, according to Williams, 65, the advisory board member.
Convinced that burning them could spread contaminants accidentally, the community fought with the Army for the next 12 years. Houses and a school were a little more than a mile from the depot site, Williams said: “It’s not like we’re in the middle of the desert here.”
The fight ended in 1996 when Congress passed a law requiring the Pentagon to investigate alternative technologies. Williams blames the Defense Department for the delay. “They decided how they were going to do it without consulting with the community,” he said.
Alternative disposal technologies now are on track to be used at both the Kentucky and Colorado depots.
In Colorado, a factory that will destroy the mustard gas arsenal will be complete in 2015, and the last weapons will be annihilated in 2019.
In Kentucky, the partnership of Bechtel National and Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Group Inc., of Pasadena, California, is building a robotized plant that will separate the chemicals from the weapons, then turn them into water, carbon dioxide and salts, using a combination of heat, water, caustics and pressure. The last weapon will be gone in 2023.
To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Newkirk in Atlanta, Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at email@example.com
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