Northeast Times

Pearl Harbor vet says he’s last of his survivors’ group

Pearl Har­bor sur­viv­or Alex Hor­anzy holds cop­ies of news­pa­pers he saved de­tail­ing the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor (the two on the ends - Hon­olulu Star-Bul­let­in edi­tions) and, later, the sur­render of Ja­pan (Phil­adelphia Bul­let­in). Hor­anzy, 85-year-old, was sta­tioned with the Army’s 24th Di­vi­sion at Schofeld Bar­racks at Pearl Har­bor on Dec. 7, 1941. He is wear­ing his Pearl Har­bor Sur­viv­ors hat. (Clem Mur­ray/In­quirer) ED­IT­OR’S NOTE: HE PREFERS ALEX, NOT AL PHar­bor07-b 12/4/2007 98597 Pearl Har­bor Day story fo­cus­ing on loc­al WWII vets who sur­vived the bomb­ing. 2 of 4 Re­port­er is Mi­chael Matza

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.

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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