Milwaukee veteran remembers Pearl Harbor
Vet served on USS California
A faded black and white photo serves as a reminder of service and sacrifice. The photo is of two young United States Marines from Wisconsin, Clyde Stephenson from Milwaukee and Earl Wallen from Green Bay.
They were best friends. Both were serving aboard the battleship USS California docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
When Japan launched a massive attack on the morning of December 7, 1941, only one of the men would survive.
Stephenson had gone ashore to the Marine rifle range for training. Wallen stayed aboard the USS California.
“The California got hit with a couple torpedoes and one big bomb hit the deck,” says Stephenson. “Earl got killed on the ship.”
Hundreds of Japanese plans attacked Pearl Harbor, targeting the U.S. battleships docked in the port. The Japanese planes also destroyed U.S. planes at Hickam Field.
“It was just a disaster,” says Stephenson.
Following the initial attack, Stephenson and his fellow Marines were assigned to patrol the beaches of the island out of fears of a Japanese invasion.
At 93 Stephenson’s memory of that day is crystal clear. He wants the memory of what happened that day to remembered by future generations so the service and sacrifice of men like Earl Wallen is not forgotten.
“Remember, he gave his life up for his country,” says Stephenson.