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Community remembers attacks on Pearl Harbor 75 years later


Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Today marks 75 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and many across the nation will honor all lives lost Dec. 7, 1941.

The USS West Virginia was a part of the United States fleet that was attacked that day. According to, shortly before 8 a.m., Japanese planes commenced a well-planned attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

“West Virginia took five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes in her port side and two bomb hits, those being 15-inch armor-piercing shells fitted with fins,” the website dedicated to the USS West Virginia said.

Damage from the first bomb included the deck collapsed to the level of the gallery deck below and four casemates and the gallery caught fire immediately.

The USSS West Virginia was eventually abandoned, but later was patched over the damaged area of her hull and was “pumped put and ultimately refloated on May 17, 1942,” said. Later examination revealed that the ship had been hit by seven torpedos.

According to, during the ship’s repairs, 70 bodies of West Virginia sailors were found who had been trapped below when the ship sank. After a complete rebuild, the USS West Virginia was more modernized and looked drastically different before Dec. 7, 1941.

The USS West Virginia remained in service for several years before being decommissioned Jan. 7, 1947 and placed in reserve. On Aug. 24, 1959, the ship was sold for scraps, according to

“West Virginia (BB-48), although heavily damaged at Pearl Harbor and missing much of the war, nevertheless earned five battle stars,” said.

In total, 106 individuals from the USS West Virginia perished that day, while almost 3,000 Americans were killed.

Mike Murphy of Mannington was stationed at Pearl Harbor but was not on the USS West Virginia around the attacks and had wrote his accounts of the first time he saw the “Wee Vee” as they called the ship.

The Marion County Courthouse will be recognizing military servicemen and servicewomen today and will be tying in history of the attack at Pearl Harbor and the reading of Murphy’s accounts, Marion County Commission President Ernie VanGilder said.

Beginning at 10 a.m. ornaments will be showcased with veterans’ photos on the Christmas tree on the second floor followed by the Pearl Harbor program.

“I think it is a nice gesture any time we can do anything for the veterans and honor them,” VanGilder said. “Especially it being on Dec. 7, it makes that even that much more special.”

Dora Grubb, president of the Marion County Historical Society, will present the history and read Murphy’s accounts of seeing the ship.

Grubb said Murphy was painting below the deck when he was asked if he was going to go watch the race.

“Hey hillbilly, aren’t you going to come and watch the race?” Grubb read. “I welcome my excuse to cease my painting deal, so I scooted up through the hatch and up the ladders to the weather deck. Man, what a sight met my eyes. Ships of all description has just filled the Panama Bay.

“Away out on the horizon were the big battle wagons (battle ships) someone yelled ‘here they come.’ Out of the existence of the harbor I could see a line of boats and the water being thrashed to a white foam. The race was a contest between the (boats) … I could see the names of their motherships on the bow and the lead boat had the lettering ‘Wee Vee.’

“Brown was standing behind me so I asked him what was ‘Wee Vee?’ He said, ‘Where are you from Marine?’ ‘West Virginia’ I said. Then he enlightened me me about the old ‘Wee Vee.’ That is the first time I had heard we had a Navy ship named after us. The ‘Wee Vee’ boat won the race, and I was mighty proud.”

Grubb added that she believes the event was important because it happened at a time the U.S. was vulnerable.

“I never expected to be attacked on our own shores, and the only other time that we knowingly have been attacked in this manner was, of course, the Twin Towers when it was so unexpected,” she said. “There are a lot of stories that happened about the number of battleships and the people who were injured at Pearl Harbor. It really brought us into the war, and showed the vulnerability we had on our shores.”

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