Pittsfield Remembers Those Lost at Pearl Harbor 82 Years Ago
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Around 50 community members gathered at Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday morning to mark Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Eighty-two years ago, Japanese planes struck the naval base and airfield at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and sparked the nation's entrance into World War II. Every year, the Berkshire Veterans Coalition and the city pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the attack with a ceremony and tree lighting.
"Today's observance is for those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice on Dec. 7, 1941," veteran Ron Rousseau said.
"Approximately 80 service personnel from Berkshire County were stationed at Pearl Harbor on that day. During this horrific battle, two men were killed from Berkshire County."
The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans including two Pittsfield residents: Petty Officer 3rd Class Roman Sadlowski and Army Air Forces 1st Sgt. Edward Burns.
The 18-year-old Sadlowski was an electrician's mate when he died on the USS Oklahoma, which was struck by multiple Japanese torpedoes and sunk. He is immortalized with an honorary plaque at the South Street park.
His unidentified remains were interred for decades in the Punchbowl, which is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, until four years ago when they were identified through DNA comparisons with extended family members. Last year, he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Burns, also a Pittsfield native, was 24 years old when he was severely wounded in the attack and died several days later. He was attached to a squadron that had arrived in Hawaii only two days before the attack and was the first soldier killed from his station at Wheeler Field on Oahu. He is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
"As the number of our greatest generation dwindles, there are fewer and fewer World War Two veterans living among us," Rousseau said.
"Yet stories of their service and commitment to our nation hold values that outlive flesh and blood. That is if we carry on with stories for future generations."
John Harding was the master of ceremonies, George Moran read the speech that President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1941, Richard Kurek did the opening prayer, and Joseph Difilippo played taps. All the men are veterans.
The park's tree was illuminated by veteran Robert "Doc" Miller and the rifle volley was conducted by the Dalton American Legion Post 155 Honor Guard.
Below are the names of county residents who were present or killed at Pearl Harbor:
John J. Bilodeau
Robert C. Burt
James W Drain
George F Drosehn
John W Kross
Lauriele I. St. Jacoues
Louis J. Scully Jr.
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