Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2007

Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 13, 2007

Sixty-six years ago last Friday, Dec. 7, 1941, our country was attacked at Pearl Harbor. To my knowledge, there was only one young man from Lansing among the survivors from that attack. He lived with his mother and grandmother in the 300 block of East Kansas. His name was Carlton C. Gabbert, and he was on the SS Oglala, which was struck by a Japanese torpedo plane on the first attack wave.

Carlton was a signalman and was left on the ship as it rolled over and went down an hour and 25 minutes later. Only part of the superstructure was above water. He was able to swim ashore to a submarine base, where he continued to assist in the defense, working as a signalman and transmitting messages several days after the initial attack.

After that he was assigned to a heavy cruiser attached to the task force headed for the Marshall and Gilbert islands. After a two-month period, they returned to Pearl Harbor, and he was transferred to a high speed mine layer engaged in mine laying and shore patrol duty, most of which was hunting for submarines of the two-man type.

Carlton was in my brother Tom's graduating class of 1940, so I attended his graduation. He was a big guy and played sports for LHS and had the nickname "Punk." He had a great personality.

On Sept. 13, 1940 he joined the Naval Reserves in Kansas City, then was ordered to report for active duty in Chicago to be trained as a signalman. Then he was sent to San Diego and was assigned to a destroyer bound for Pearl Harbor.

After the service Carlton settled in California and was a successful salesman. He died in 1968 at age 45.

Seeing the many graduates of Lansing High School, we have no idea of the wonderful legacy they leave and the great things they do. Each one makes a difference.

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