Eighty years ago, more than 2,000 Americans died when the Japanese military executed a surprise attack on the United States military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The attack launched the US into World War II and claimed the lives of 2,403 Americans.
On the 80th anniversary of the attack, people across the state gathered to remember the lives lost, including the 17 servicemen from Connecticut.
All 17 men are honored at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Park in New Haven. They include:
- Eric Allen of Darien (Navy, lieutenant junior grade, USS Enterprise)
- Henry Ludwig Carlson of Norwich (Navy, storekeeper 3c, USS Arizona)
- Edward W. Gosselin of Hamden (Naval Reserve, ensign, USS Arizona)
- Vincent M. Horan of Stamford (Army Air Force, corporal, Wheeler Field)
- Henry John Lanquette of Wallingford (Navy, coxswain, USS Arizona)
- John Kallervo Luntta of Collinsville (Navy, seaman 1c, USS Nevada)
- W.T. O’Neill Jr. of Glenbrook (Naval Reserve, ensign, USS Arizona)
- Stanislaus Joseph Orzech of Meriden (Navy, seaman 2c, USS Arizona)
- Richard Patterson Jr. of Berlin (Navy, shipfitter 3c, USS Arizona)
- George Povesko of Bridgeport (Navy, seaman 1c, USS Arizona)
- Mike George Quarto of Norwich (Navy, seaman 1c, USS Arizona)
- Thomas James Reeves of Thomaston (Navy, chief radioman, USS California)
- William Eugene Seeley of New London (Navy, seaman 1c, USS Arizona)
- George Smith of New Haven (Army Air Force, private, Hickam Field)
- Gordon H. Sterling Jr. of Hartford (Army Air Force, 2nd lieutenant, Wheeler Field)
- Felix S. Wegrzyn of Bridgeport (Army Air Force, private, Hickam Field)
- Ulmont Irving Whitehead Jr. of Hartford (Navy, ensign, USS Arizona)
The Norwich Area Veterans Council hosted a ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday. The city lost two residents during the attack. Storekeeper 3rd Class Harry Carlson and Seaman 1st Class Michael Quarto were killed in action aboard the USS Arizona.
"We have to commemorate the people that died that day," said John Waggoner, past president of the Norwich Area Veterans Council. "We have a close tie to people who never came home."
Of the 2,403 American casualties, 1,177 were killed on the USS Arizona. The battleship is still underwater today with its crew on board.
Waggoner made replica models of the USS Arizona and presented them to the nieces of Carlson and Quarto.
Both families attended the ceremony in Norwich.
"It's great to keep his memory alive," said Rozann Valenti, Quarto's niece. "My mother was always telling stories. That was her baby brother and they took care of each other and they liked to go to dances and the movies together."
"He is forever 20 years old on the Arizona. It's sad. I grew up hearing about him," said Rosalyn Lachapelle, Carlson's niece. "He was a big football player at NFA."
Both families said they hope that people never forget the events that happened on December 7, 1941.
"I am just hoping on the 100th anniversary that people will still remember how important this was," said Valenti.