Martin C. Evans

A Last Pearl Harbor Survivor, 93, Dies

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

Bill Halloran survived Pearl Harbor

Until his last hours, Bill Halleran, a craggy-faced survivor of the devastating Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, worked to keep alive the memory of one of history’s most pivotal moments.

But not long before he was to participate in a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack, Halleran, 93, suffered a massive stroke early this week and never recovered, according to Rev. Ann Morgan, pastor of the Merrick United Methodist Church. He died just before noon Friday at Nassau University Medical Center, Morgan said.

Halleran, who was aboard the USS Phoenix on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, had a clear view of the battleship Arizona as it’s sinking swallowed 1,177 crew members. In total, the surprise attack – Japan had not declared war on the United States – killed more than 2,400 Americans, and galvanized American resolve to become the world’s leading power.

“I was with the executive officer when I heard the first explosion,” recalled Halleran, of North Merrick. “I said, ‘Hell, this is the real thing. We’re at war.'”

“All you could see were flames and smoke,” Halleran told Newsday last week.

Halleran said he became so involved in trying to prepare the Phoenix for battle – including manually hauling heavy belts of ammunition from several decks below after the ship lost electrical power – that he had no time to locate his brother, Charlie, a fellow crew member who was stationed near the bow. His brother survived the attack – the two shared a hasty soup lunch later that day – and lived until three years ago.

Halleran became determined that America should never forget the surprise attack, and helped organize a Long Island chapter of a Pearl Harbor survivors organization. He said last week he was one of only three members left.

He had planned to attend a 70th anniversary commemoration at the Airpower Museum in Farmingdale on Wednesday.

But when the ceremony began, his chair was empty.

Halleran, who remained vigorous until his last days, was involved in local Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion activities, and had been a member of the North Merrick Fire Department.

A wake will be held today, from 7-9 p.m. and tomorrow, 2-4 and 7-9, at Walker Funeral Home, in Merrick. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Merrick United Methodist Church, in Merrick, N.Y., said Morgan, who said he will be buried at Calverton National Cemetery, in Calverton, N.Y.

Katrina’s Lessons To Guide Guard Deployment During Irene

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Acting to spare local Guard troops the possibility of having to chose between duty and family, National Guard leaders in Albany will send troops from elsewhere in New York State to assist local emergency crews during Hurricane Irene’s expected battering of Long Island.

Heeding a state of emergency declared today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Albany has ordered a detachment of 220 soldiers from western New York State – complete with heavy trucks, chain saws and emergency equipment – to ride out the storm at the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale. Another 290 troops will be on call at Camp Smith, just north of New York City.

The troops and equipment would be ordered into action should local leaders on Long Island ask for help.

Meanwhile, Army and Air National Guard aircraft based at MacArthur Airport in Patchogue and at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach spent today and yesterday being moved to airfields out of the storm’s path.

At Gabreski airfield, which is home to several C-130 cargo planes, aircraft from the 106th Air Rescue wing began leaving Thursday. Crew members with the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment were to fly five Army National Guard UH-60 helicopters to Rochester from their base at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. The unit’s remaining three helicopters, which are undergoing maintenance, will be secured in hangers.

The Guard’s decision to call on troops from outside the area for disaster relief was based on the experience of emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina, said Guard spokesman Eric Durr.

With their own families threatened by rising waters during Katrina’s 2005 battering of New Orleans, many emergency workers there were unable to report for duty, which hampered rescue and recovery efforts.

“And remember, many of our Guard members themselves have day jobs as local policemen or firefighters, or have families of their own who might need help,” Durr said.

Durr said an additional 225 Guard troops from upstate would be available to join emergency crews in New York City, with 150 stationed at Camp Smith and another 75 an armory in Harlem.

LI Armories, Reserve Centers to Close, Consolidate in Farmingdale

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

A $93 million facility that will allow National Guard, Army and Marines facilities to consolidate their operations at a single Long Island location opens in Farmingdale this morning – one year late and $7 million over its announced cost in 2007.

The facility on Route 110 just south of Republic Airport, will result in relocating operations from closing National Guard armories in Bay Shore, Huntington Station, Patchogue, Freeport and Riverhead, and Army and Marine Reserves centers in Uniondale and Amityville.

Military proponents say the consolidation will streamline the emergency mobilization of military assets whose operations and chains of commands are spread out across Long Island, and save millions in the cost of renovating and maintaining separate facilities.

But there has been some grumbling that removing military units from communities could leave them more vulnerable in case a hurricane or other large-scale emergency brought with it the need for immediate help in isolated villages and towns.

What do you think of this consolidation? Please post your comments, or contact me at 516 313-2906.