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80 years later, Pearl Harbor losses are not forgotten

  • TUSCALOOSA NEWS VIA AP
                                A monument to the memory of brothers Daniel P. Jones and Woodrow Wilson Jones was dedicated Nov. 12 in Coaling, a town in Tuscaloosa County, Ala.

    TUSCALOOSA NEWS VIA AP

    A monument to the memory of brothers Daniel P. Jones and Woodrow Wilson Jones was dedicated Nov. 12 in Coaling, a town in Tuscaloosa County, Ala.

  • TUSCALOOSA NEWS VIA AP
                                American Legion Post 123 honor guard commander Stanely Blevins presented an American flag to the Jones brothers’ niece Jamie Jones.

    TUSCALOOSA NEWS VIA AP

    American Legion Post 123 honor guard commander Stanely Blevins presented an American flag to the Jones brothers’ niece Jamie Jones.

Almost 80 years after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, towns across the country continue to honor their service members who perished that day.

One of the most recent ceremonies was held Nov. 12 in the town of Coaling, Ala., which dedicated a monument honoring two native sons who died in the surprise aerial attack by Japanese forces that catapulted the United States into World War II.

Woodrow Jones, 22, and Daniel Jones, 19, enlisted in the Navy in early 1941 and were assigned to the USS Arizona. More than half of the 2,403 U.S. service members and 68 civilians killed in the attack were aboard the battleship, including the Jones brothers.

Jamie Jones, one of several relatives in attendance at the ceremony, thanked the town of Coaling for dedicating the monument to her great-uncles.

“This monument will stand strong for years and years to come, reminding us and our loved ones how blessed we are to have soldiers, so we can have the life that the Lord intended us to have,” she said.

The USS Arizona was sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack and the Jones brothers’ bodies were never recovered.

The ceremony took place at Coaling’s town hall a day after the nationwide celebration of Veterans Day. Mayor Gary Averett said the dedication ceremony was special to him and the entire town.

“Our town has a lot of veterans located in it. We’re pretty much a family-type community. And so things like this mean a lot to the people here,” Averett said.

Averett, who is a retired master sergeant in the Army Reserve, said he has known the Jones family all of his life and they attend the same church in Coaling.

Although the Jones brothers died long before most of their surviving family were born, the family says they keep the memory of Woodrow and Daniel alive through sharing the story of their military service and what that service meant to the country.

Brookwood High School faculty and students also participated in the ceremony, with contributions from the school’s Junior ROTC and a performance by the school’s choir.

Brookwood High Principal Kelly Hubbard said the event was a great learning opportunity for her students, while also providing an opportunity for students to show off their talents. Hubbard added that she wanted her students to learn about people in the community and those who have served their country.

On Monday, three days after the monument dedication in Alabama, the remains of Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Keefe Connolly were buried with military honors in his hometown of Markesan, Wis.

Connolly died aboard the USS Oklahoma after it was struck by Japanese aircraft at Ford Island on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Navy recovered the remains of the 429 crewmen who died on the Oklahoma and interred those unidentified at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl after the war. In February, Connolly was identified by investigators with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at Pearl Harbor, who exhumed the unidentified remains in 2015.

“I want to thank all the folks who have worked to ensure Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Connolly was able to return home after all these years so he can be laid to rest in his home state,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement ordering state flags lowered to half staff. “We are thankful for his service and his sacrifice, and we hope this final journey brings peace to his memory.”

After his death, Connolly received the Purple Heart, a military honor awarded to those killed or wounded in combat.

The 80th anniversary of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day will be held at Pearl Harbor at 7:45 a.m. Dec. 7. The observance will be an invitation-only event for the health and safety of attending veterans. However, the National Park Serv­ice at Pearl Harbor National Memorial will livestream the ceremony from the Visitor Center lawn.

Seating at the visitor center will be determined via a recreation.gov lottery. Those with lottery seats will be required to show proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test.

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