70th Anniversary Commemoration
December 7, 1941 – December 7, 2011
December 7, 1941, is forever etched into the minds of many Americans as “a date which will live in infamy”. Early on that Sunday morning, Japanese air and naval forces attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was designed to immobilize the U.S. Fleet, remove the U.S. from its Pacific island possessions, and prevent America’s ability to wage war in Japan’s Pacific Empire. Of the seven battleships moored in Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, four were sunk. The U.S.S. Arizona (BB-39) suffered the most fatalities with 1,177 crewmen killed. Alabamian Cloyd L. Fair was an eyewitness to this event.
A native of Gordo, Ala., Fair was assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona in late 1940 where he served as a ship’s barber. During a stopover in Bremerton, Washington, on the way to Pearl Harbor, he contracted the mumps and was hospitalized for more than a month. Following his recovery, Fair was placed on the U.S.S. Nevada for transport to Pearl Harbor. A paperwork mix-up prevented his return to the Arizona as planned and he was permanently assigned to the Nevada. “I always wondered if the Lord had a hand in that,” Fair said.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Fair was relaxing with friends and coffee inside the Nevada’s barber shop when the Japanese attack began. He remembered going topside and viewing the fires, chaos, and human carnage. Fair was asked to help treat wounded sailors below deck and said, “I helped carry the bodies down. Some weren’t whole bodies.” Despite its own damage, the Nevada struggled to move out, clear the harbor, and try to head out to sea. However, Japanese bombers targeted the ship and severely damaged it, forcing Nevada’s crew to deliberately ground their ship to keep the channel open. “You can’t imagine what a mess the harbor was in,” Fair said. 343 aircraft and 18 ships were destroyed or severely damaged in the attack, and countless bodies littered Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day, 1,282 Americans were wounded and 2,402 were killed, making it one of the darkest days in American history.
Did You Know?
U.S.S. Alabama Captain William B. Goggins and Chaplain George L. Markle served aboard the U.S.S.
Arizona in the 1920s and 30s respectively.
Uniform and information donated in honor of Mr. Fair by his five children. Listed in birth order, they are: Priscilla Fair Nichols, Forrest Fair, Leatrice Fair Genaux, Dennis Fair, and
Sherry Fair Gavin.