‘Children of Pearl’ to preserve memories of historic attackPosted: April 24, 2012
By Jim Painter
First published in the Urbana Daily Citizen, Tuesday March 20th 2012
A former Urbana woman has inspired a film project featuring people who were children of U.S. military families at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Vivid recollections are being recorded by survivors, some who lost parents during the attack or during the wartime that followed. Their stories are being chronicled in a documentary, “Children of Pearl.” The hope of producers Glenn Burris and Jerry Sisser is to bring the stories to public television, museums and the Internet.
A woman with local family ties is involved with the project to preserve such memories. She spoke of the attack and film project with the Daily Citizen.
The aerial bombardment began at 7:55 a.m. and lasted until 9:45 a.m. as Japanese forces attacked about 84,000 uniformed Americans on the island of Oahu. It was mostly military personnel among the more than 2,400 killed in the battle.
Today, it’s estimated that fewer than 8,000 military survivors are alive. On Dec. 31, 2011, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded as fewer than 2,700 members are living. Now in their late 80s and 90s, many have health issues that prevent them from attending anniversary events.
Many of the survivors’ children, now in their 70s and 80s, are members of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors national organization. Their goal is to keep the memory of the act of war alive for younger generations.
The Former Anne Hubbard
The former Anne Hubbard, formerly of Urbana, was living at Pearl Harbor with her father, Commander Joseph C. Hubbard, her mother and younger brother, Joe Hubbard, at the time of the attack.
She is now 77 years old and known as Anne Shambaugh, living in Sagamore Hills Township near Cleveland. Joe Hubbard lives in Glendale, near Cincinnati, where he once served as mayor.
Burris and Sisser of Home Stand, an Ohio production company, are collaborating on the project in hopes of preserving the memories for future generations. Burris, of Bowling Green, is Shambaugh’s son-in-law.
“Anne has been my mother-in-law for 20 years. She has talked about (Pearl Harbor) for years. I thought it would be a great public interest item to talk with these people. It all started with Anne,” he said.
In 2010, Burris attended the 69th anniversary of the attack with survivors in Hawaii. The project will include Hawaiian children and Japanese children liv- ing on the island at the time and how their lives changed.
In a posting on Facebook, Shambaugh’s ordeal is noted.
It reads, in part, that her father “was on his way to duty on that fateful Sunday morning, driven by Anne’s mother. Before they could reach the base, the attack began, and their car was strafed (dam- aged by enemy fire). Anne’s mother soon found her- self alone by the side of the road, as Commander Hubbard hurried on to Pearl Harbor alone. Anne’s mom had to make her way home on her own, and Cmdr. Hubbard was soon at sea, sadly, never to return.”
Shambaugh recalls her mother attempting to drive her father to the naval base as enemy planes flew overhead and shrapnel hit the car. She said her brother was an infant at the time, too young to recall the day.
Although the commander survived the Dec. 7 attack, it would be the last time the family saw him. He was killed aboard the USS San Francisco during a night surface engagement on Nov. 13, 1942. He was honored posthumously with the Navy Cross, one of the Navy’s highest honors.
As a tribute, the USS Hubbard was launched a year later serving as a destroyer escort ship.
Christmas Day Evacuation
Shambaugh spoke of the phone call her mother received Dec. 24, 1941. An officer advised her of an evacuation telling her to have the family packed and ready to board a ship in Honolulu headed to the states by 5 p.m. the next day.
The Hubbards first traveled to San Francisco and soon would return to Urbana.
Shambaugh said her local family roots extend into the pre-Revolutionary War era. Connected family names include Simon Kenton, Chance, Whitaker and Steinberger. Her mother, the former Helen Chance, lived at 419 N. Main St., a house no longer in existence.
Chance taught school and eventually moved to Boston, where she met her future husband, a gradu- ate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. They were married the day of an Army-Navy football game.
Anne was born in Philadelphia, not China, as some people believe.
The family was stationed in Singapore before being sent to Pearl Harbor. When her father was killed, Shambaugh said, the family stayed in Urbana to care for her maternal grandparents. She graduated from Urbana High School in 1952.
Shambaugh moved from Urbana in 1972 when her husband, who died in 2000, was transferred to the Cleveland area. Her sister-in-law, Janet Anderson, lives in Urbana.
“I believe it’s important for people not to forget Pearl Harbor. We were very fortunate that World War II changed the way we thought about the world, but we were only bombed that one time in our country,” Shambaugh said.
She plans to return to Urbana for her 60th high school class reunion this year.
Burris and Sisser are featuring the stories of other survivors. One recalls a piece of the USS Arizona landing in the front yard after exploding. Another tells of staring into the eyes of a Japanese pilot in her front yard. Several spoke of their playground becoming a battlefield.
The producers have traveled the country and used their own equipment to gather the memories. They claim to have personally funded one-third of the project, but estimate an additional $69,600 is needed to complete a broadcast-quality piece.
They are seeking donations online through Kickstarter, a website aimed at fund-raising for creative projects. The project only can be posted for 60 days and now faces an April 1 deadline for donations.
As of Wednesday, the project had 17 donors pledging $5,026.
Details of the project may be viewed at http://www.kick- star ter.com/projects/childrenofpearl/children-of- pearl. Further information can be obtained from Burris and Sisser by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Painter can be reached at email@example.com.