Alex Horanzy and his buddies had a late night on the town on Dec. 6, 1941. In fact, their night of revelry in Oahu, Hawaii, lasted well into the early hours of Dec. 7, 1941.
Eventually, they all made it to bed and tried to sleep it off, but the Japanese didn’t let the members of Horanzy’s U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Division sleep too long. Emperor Hirohito’s planes attacked America’s Pearl Harbor at about 7:50 a.m., thrusting the United States headlong into World War II.
In recognition of Memorial Day, Horanzy told his Pearl Harbor story to members of the Holme Circle Civic Association during the group’s monthly meeting on May 22 at St. Jerome Church.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor claimed the lives of 2,402 U.S. service members and as many as 68 civilians. Horanzy survived the attack and the ensuing four years of war. He served in Australia and New Guinea, where he contracted malaria while helping to reverse Japan’s hostile foray into Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Horanzy, 90, of Holme Circle, says he is the last remaining member of his Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter. The others have passed away.
“As the Japanese were attacking, I was assigned with other soldiers to an ammunition warehouse that was full of explosives. … We began to load trucks with ammunition and explosives to fortify the north shore of the island, because we anticipated that the Japanese troops were going to make a landing there,” said Horanzy, who spoke with a backdrop of wartime newspapers and a Japanese flag that he said he collected from the cockpit of a downed enemy fighter plane.
The warehouse was next to an airfield a short distance from the harbor, which was the base of operations for the Pacific Fleet.
“We were inside the warehouse, carrying out the ammo to load the trucks when we heard the planes coming overhead. We quickly stopped what we were doing and ran for cover. … To this day, I wonder why they never fired upon us or bombed the warehouse that was full of explosives. … Maybe they were saving their attack for the grand prize, Pearl Harbor, in which they succeeded. … I think if the Japanese had known that the warehouse was full of explosives, they would have bombed it and I would not be [speaking to] you today.”
Horanzy told the Holme Circle residents he plans to speak during a Pearl Harbor ceremony next Dec. 7.
The civic group presented Horanzy with a framed certificate of appreciation, as did a representative of the 24th Infantry Division Association. State Rep. John Sabatina presented Horanzy with a Pennsylvania House citation, while Councilman Bobby Henon’s aide, Paul Ragan, gave the Pearl Harbor vet a City Council citation. ••
On the Web:
To view a video of Alex Horanzy sharing his experience of Pearl Harbor, visit the Northeast Times YouTube page at www.youtube.com/user/NortheastTimes.