Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor to Palomar



Some of you might remember Bill and Grace Leibold, who built the ‘Ship House’ out on Birch Hill. I just had a lovely conversation with Bill who shared a bit if his day at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago.

Bill was 18 years old when he was assigned to the USS Pruitt, in the Navy yard undergoing overhall. It was in dry-dock with two other destroyers that were a total loss that fateful day.

He and a group from the ship had just finished breakfast. “It was a rather busy morning. I heard a noise and went to look outside the window. I saw the ‘big red meatball’ on the side of a plane, so I yelled out, “It’s the Japs!”. We headed for the stairwell to get out and back through the ship yard. We went back to our ship but were told that the USS Pennsylvania needed help. The young officer knew we weren’t part of the ships company. He asked our duty and battle stations on our ships. I said I was a gun pointer on the Pruitt so he assigned me to a gun on the Pennsylvania. I provided assistance to keep a steady flow of ammunition.  My two shipmates on the gun next to mine, unfortunately lost their lives that day. I picked up a little bit of shrapnel. When it was removed, it was given to me in a jar as a good luck souvenir. Two years later it went down in my locker when the USS Tang sunk. In my days as a diver I always thought it would be a good idea to go down in there and get my good luck charm back. But, it is in the bottom of the ocean. ”

Bill still has his 50 year commendatory medal that Congress awarded 25 years ago. This was given in honor of the 50th year anniversary since Pearl Harbor. 1941 is now 75 years ago. At 93 years of age, Bill is one of the last survivors of Pearl Harbor and the last survivor of the USS Tang.

Read some of Bill Leibold’s story on Palomar and his time on the USS Tang, here:

Presumed Lost from USS Tang WWII:

Snow Plow Idea from Bill:

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