For Tyrone resident Linda Conley, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day has special meaning each year. Conley ‘s father, Darwin Schurr, was stationed in Honololu during the Japanese attack on that infamous day of Dec. 7, 1941. By coincidence, Schurr turned 22 on the same day.
Conley said he and a friend enlisted with the U.S. Army in 1940 and were given the choice to head off to the Philippines or Honolulu. Neither man knew much about either place. Conley said the story goes they simply picked Honolulu at random.
“That’s what my brother told me. We don’t know a lot because they didn’t talk about it,” Conley said of her father and his fellow veterans. “As kids, we didn’t think to ask. We just knew daddy was in a war, daddy was at Pearl Harbor.”
She does know some of the details of her father’s experience that day, though. Schurr was stationed at Schofield Barracks where he did weapons repair. The night before the attack, he had been camping down at the beach, but decided to head back to sleep in the barracks on the night of the attack. He left his gear on the beach, assuming he would pick it up the next day, but that didn’t happen.
The Japanese flew over that very beach on their attack and reached Schofield, raining bullets down around the feet of her father and the other soldiers there.
“He said he had just finished eating breakfast and was ridng in his truck when they heard the planes flying. They didn’t think much of it because planes were always flying around,” she said. “They started hearing machine gun fire. At first, he said they were getting a big kick out of it until they realized people were firing back. Bullets were hitting the ground around their feet.”
She said once the realization dawned on everyone that the planes were Japanese, they moved into action, firing off machine gun rounds non-stop in an effort to bring down the planes.
Conley becomes a little emotional imagining the scenes of fires, death, and destruction a 22-year-old version of her father saw that day.
“The Japanese machine gunned a mess hall while they were eating and killed most of them,” Conley recalls being told. “He just said how it was a complete surprise to all of them. But he also said, ‘We gave them a good reception.'”
Her father would pass away in 1994, but got the opportunity to return to Honolulu twice in his life, once in the 1970’s and again in 1991 for the 50th anniversary of the attack.
Conley, a Delta flight attendant, has been back herself to attend the 70th anniversary held in 2011.
“It’s quite moving. There aren’t many of those guys left. To see them there again, they’re old, they’re very old. That’s a hard trip for me to make,” Conley said, but she believes its worth it to honor the memory of her father and the other men who experienced the attack that day.