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Bob Kronberger and Mark Ferris commented on
the start of our organization as being more or less conceived by accident; however,
it could easily be traced to the 1954 USS West Virginia reunion held at the VFW
Hall in Gardena, California.
Ferris, editor of the Gardena Tribune, while covering the USS West Virginia reunion,
made it known to the gathering that he also was a victim of the tragedy of the
"Day of Infamy", as a member of the 72nd Bomb Squadron at
Hickam Field December 7th 1941. Mark Ferris invited Ed Steffa, Louis
P. Smith, Eddy and Bob Kronberger, Sam Kronberger the father of Eddy and Bob,
to a remembrance dinner party at the Del Camino Room he was hosting for a few
of his friends to commemorate the Attack on Pearl Harbor December 7th
Present at that dinner party
in addition to the host Mark Ferris were Ed Steffa, Sam, Eddy and Bob Kronberger
from the USS West Virginia; George Haines Jr., VP23; Raymond LeBer, Navy Yard;
James C. Taneyhill, USS Neosho; Clarence Bonn, Wheeler Field; George Schafer,
Fort Kam and Louis P. Smith, Shore Patrol. As the party progressed the participating
survivors swore to make this an annual event to be held on December 7th
each succeeding year.
Of those attending
that first dinner at the Del Camino Room in Gardena California, Mark Ferris, Smiley
Bond, Eddy and Bob Kronberger are the only ones that have not been called to rest.
The following years they diligently honored their pledge and invited other Pearl
Harbor Survivors to join a common cause of "Remembrance Of Pearl Harbor".
By 1958 the dinner sessions grew
to include Mike Kotsmith, Chippie Woods and Ray Brown, USS West Virginia; Frank
Shilling, USS St Louis; Marion Bradley, USS New Orleans and Frank Gilliand, Sub
Base. It was there that the decision was made to search for other military survivors
of the Pearl Harbor Attack and invite them to join a worthwhile venture to organize
and promote our accepted thoughts of "Remembering Pearl Harbor".
The gathering assembled at the evening
dinner came to the conclusion
all in attendance at that get together would be known as the original founders
of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association; however, this decision was later changed
by the by-laws committee when they decided to limit the number of the official
Founding Fathers to the original participating eleven.
The leaders chosen to guide them through the formation period were Mark Ferris
as President, Ed Steffa as Vice President, Sam Kronberger as Treasurer and George
Schafer as Secretary. During the next two years over a thousand responses were
received from across the nation. It was decided at the December 7th
1960 dinner to hold a framework for organization caucus in 1961.
The first organizational convention was held at the Disneyland Hotel December
7th 1961 in Anaheim California. In spite of the dense fog over 300
survivors came forward to join together affirming that our comrades in arms would
not be forgotten and the silent watch they keep would not be in vain. Survivor
Dan McCarthy donated the newly designed Pearl Harbor Survivors Flag. The elected
officers for the new association were Mark Ferris as President, James Daw as 1st
VP, Clarence "Smiley" Bond 2nd VP.
Over 1,000 Pearl Harbor Survivors attended the convention held at the Lafayette
Hotel in Long Beach California December 7th 1962. It was at this meeting
that the PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS ASSOCIATION was officially instituted and
our fine organization finally came to life. For the first time in its existence
state contingents with their state flags flying arrived and made their presence
As soon as the association
was instituted our first permanent slate of national officers was elected and
again Mark Ferris was unanimously elected National President, along with Joseph
T. Toker 1st VP, James Daw 2nd VP, Ted Nicolai Treasurer
and Robert Farnham as Secretary. The highlight of the convention was when our
new National Constitution was presented and accepted by the now organized membership.
It was announced the organization had been incorporated under the laws of the
State of California and the PHSA National Insignia was registered in Washington
From our formal incorporation December
1962 to the present day, the scope of the PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS ASSOCIATION has
steadily thrived. The United States Congress now charters our association and
we take an active part and interest in our national affairs, while our own history
is still being written. AS LONG AS ONE OF US IS STILL ALIVE, IT IS THE HOPE
OF MOST OF US THAT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS ASSOCIATION EXTOLLING
THE ATTRIBUTES OF OUR BELOVED AMERICA.
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PHSA FOUNDING FATHER & 1ST NATIONAL PRESIDENT
with Senator Bob Dole at the Dedication of the WW II Memorial in Washington DC.
represented the Pearl Harbor Survivors and presented a $14.5 million dollar check
collected at over 3000 Wal-Mart stores in the United States to Bob Dole for the
construction of the WW II Memorial.
in Hawaii during the 60th Reunion
passed away December 28, 2002. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, one
of the Founding Fathers of the PHSA, member of VFW and Elks, Crime Reporter for
the Los Angles Times, writer for the Sacramento Bee and Union.
BEGINNING; The eleven founding members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association
held their first reunion December 7, 1958 in Gardena, California. FIRST ROW, L
to R: GEORGE W. HAINES JR., SAM KRONBERGER (Deceased). RAYMOND J. LE BER, MARK
FERRIS, JAMES C. TANEYHILL. SECOND ROW, L to R: CLARENCE E. BONN, ED KRONBERGER,
ROBERT S. KRONBERGER, ED STEFFA, GEORGE SCHAFFER, LEWIS P. SMITH. Today, P.H.S.A.
has thirty eight state chapters and survivor members in every state of the Union.
A Little About Myself:
I was knocked out of bed by the concussions
of exploding bombs! On December 7,1941 I was fast asleep when the Japanese war
planes launched their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I was assigned to the 72nd
bombardment squadron stationed with the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field when the
rude awakening blew me out of my bunk. America, the sleeping giant, was now thrust
into an unwanted war, World War II.
When the news hit the mainland, every
American, experienced a rude awakening. The average American, no matter who, felt
the shock: the surprise slap in the face was felt by each individual--it was a
very personal thing. A good part of America's mighty fleet was sunk-- thousands
of American's finest young men were dead or horribly maimed. That carefree, easy-go-lucky
American lifestyle, came to a screeching halt. How could anyone do this to us?
People were shocked, mad, hurt, and humiliated--no one would ever forget this
Or so we all thought. At the time, we were all so sure
that this was one of those moments in history that leaves an everlasting mark.
Surely, Americans could never forget what happened on December 7, 1941.
the war came to an end, and the years rolled by. A little over 15 years later,
in 1957 I found myself in the perfect profession to ask that important question:
Do Americans know what happened on December 7, 1941? Since I was the Manager of
the Gardena Tribune, a Californian newspaper, I sent the editor out into the streets
to ask people if they knew what happened on December 7, 1941. To my dismay I found
that pretty much every man, woman or child we asked had no clue to what happened
on December 7, 1941.
I decided it was time to try to inform the American public
about the significance of the December 7, 1941 date. I wrote an editorial and
invited Pearl Harbor survivors to a dinner which I hosted at one of the local
restaurants. Thirteen survivors showed up and we decided to form the Pearl Harbor
Our first convention was held at the Disneyland hotel
in Anaheim, California. 300 Pearl Harbor survivors attended our first convention--President
Kennedy sent his personal representative to our convention. I was elected president
of the organization and served for three years.
The prominent goal of our
organization has been to facilitate the remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor,
and preserve the December 7, 1941 date in People's memories. Membership in the
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association fast grew to over 70,000 members worldwide.
However, with the passing of the years and the onset of old age our membership
has been steadily declining.
A few years ago, Sen. Bob Dole and actor Tom
Hanks began to actively pursue the idea of a building a Memorial for World War
II veterans. Since I work at Wal-Mart as a people greeter, Wal-Mart managers ask
what I thought about the idea of a World War II Memorial. Our association got
behind fund-raising for the Memorial and collected over 40 thousand dollars for
the Memorial. With the help of Wal-Mart's WWII Memorial Fund drive the amount
raised soon became $14,500,000. I was chosen to go to Washington DC and present
the $14,500,000 Wal-Mart check to Sen. Bob Dole. Even though, the Pearl Harbor
Survivors Association is slowly dying, there were still 25,000 Pearl Harbor survivors
alive to see the World War II Memorial erected.
Since the founding of the
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association we have had one prominent goal: to promote
the remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We are meeting December 3-8,
2001 in Oahu, Hawaii to mark the 60th anniversary of the attacked on Pearl Harbor.
Join us, at the ALA Moana Hotel, and help us remember the attack on Pearl Harbor.
December 7, 1941, remember it. Especially, after the remaining Pearl Harbor
survivors have all passed away, remember December 7, 1941--for the lessons learned
that day are still valid today. Remember our motto:
"Remember Pearl Harbor--Keep
America Alert-- Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty."
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