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  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Beverly Moglich remembers bullets hitting nearby and the look on a Japanese pilot's face as he strafed her home on Dec. 7, 1941.

  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Beverly Moglich holds shrapnel from the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when she was a 12-year-old living nearby.

More Information

  • Remembrances are planned Wednesday to recall the heroism and sacrifice of men and women at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

    • Submarine veterans of the USS Holland will conduct, for the 25th consecutive year, the Pearl Harbor Remembrance and Wreath Laying Ceremony in Sacramento. The observance begins at 9 a.m. at Discovery Park.

    • A remembrance in Roseville, beginning at 11 a.m., will feature an oral re-enactment of the events of Dec. 7-8, 1941, as well as a wreath laying at the World War II Memorial. This year's wreath will be presented by Alfred Mirtoni, 96, an Army veteran of the South Pacific theater. The memorial is in downtown Roseville, 100 block of Vernon Street.

    • The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will host a local breakfast and ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. base. Breakfast will start around 8 a.m. at Brookfield's Restaurant near Sunrise Boulevard and Highway 50. The ceremony will start after the meal.

A child's perspective on living through the Pearl Harbor attack

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 - 8:11 am

It isn't your typical Pearl Harbor story.

While it's always appropriate to focus on those who died in the Japanese attack on Hawaii, and on the veterans who still are alive 70 years later, Beverly Moglich has a unique perspective.

Moglich, an 82-year-old El Dorado County resident, is a Pearl Harbor survivor, but her tale is wrapped more in family warmth than in the exploits of war.

As a 12-year-old, she stood on her porch and watched a Japanese pilot strafe the house from so close that she saw his eyes and can still remember his smirk.

"His facial expression indicated he was enjoying every moment of his mission, which was to kill," Moglich wrote in her self-published "Memoirs of a Navy Brat," which came out in 2010.

"For 40 years, I didn't even want to talk about it," she said.

However, a writing teacher encouraged her to expand a 250-word memoir into a book. When she sat down to write it, Pearl Harbor Day was just one chapter.

Her beloved grandfather, who arrived to join her family in Hawaii just before war broke out, gets as much attention as the attack.

When the topic is the USS Arizona, it's less about sailors jumping into the burning, oil-slicked waters of the harbor. Her memory is of boarding the ship for a family Thanksgiving three years earlier.

She, her sister and her mother lived in San Pedro then. Boarding the Arizona for a Thanksgiving feast was a rare opportunity to see her peripatetic Navy father.

Moglich's father had joined the Navy at the end of World War I, when he was 15, after both his parents had died.

He retired 30 years later, just a month before Moglich got married right out of high school – so she spent her entire childhood as a Navy brat.

When the family moved to Pearl Harbor, Moglich thought it was paradise to see the wild orchids, to climb the green mountains and slide down again.

It was also important to her because it meant the reunification with her father who, in earlier years, had been at sea for months at a time, coming home only briefly.

In Hawaii, "my father was there every single night," she said.

That all changed with the attack.

Her father ran to the neighbors' to get a ride to his post, because his car was disabled by the Japanese strafing.

"The shells fell like rain all over the lawn in front of our house," Moglich wrote in her book.

She recalled being issued gas masks, playing in a bomb shelter and the night her grandfather woke them up, shouting about a cockroach that was in his pants.

She also recalled her disappointment when the Navy truck full of toys that made Christmas rounds was empty by the time it got to her house.

By February 1942, she was evacuated to San Francisco.

"Hawaii, to me today, is still my second home," she said.

She has returned dozens of times with her husband, Al, whom she met just a few years after Pearl Harbor.

He marveled at the difference between his comfortable upbringing and her Pearl Harbor memories.

In the 1970s, they walked up to where she had lived and took a photo, but didn't speak to the residents. She returned to the house in 1998.

"It was so run-down and so depressing to me," she said.

On her most recent trip, in 2010, she decided she would go up to the house and tell the residents she had lived there and ask to look inside.

Too late. Since her previous visit, the 70-year-old base housing had been torn down and replaced with nice, new units, Moglich said.

She has also visited the USS Arizona Memorial, and said she is more moved each time.

"When I look at the wall with all the names," she said, "I hadn't realized my name could've been up there. I was in jeopardy. For so many years, I hadn't thought of it."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Carlos Alcalá



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