continued Remembering those who served was Ryan’s mission in sharing his father’s heroism. His father spent the first wave of the attack loading ammo for a 50-caliber machine gun to fight back at the Japanese plans raining bombs and torpedoes. Then, he and a few others took a rig to Battleship Row and pulled men from the burning waters, which is when the second wave of attack hit.
“They were right in the middle of the harbor but they kept going,” said Ryan. “There was not time to think, only to take action as best they could.”
The actions of servicemen like his father will go down in infamy, said Ryan, but it’s equally important to recognize the strength of their loved ones back home, like his mother, a nurse in Troy.
“On Dec. 8 she got flowers from my Dad, only to learn that those flowers were ordered on Dec. 5,” said Ryan. “… My mother waited three weeks before receiving a postcard on Christmas Eve to know that her husband was indeed alive.”
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ryan’s father was on a cruiser in the south Pacific for the duration of the war where he saw 11 major sea battles, getting his chance at redemption.
It may seem impossible for a memory like the Pearl Harbor attack to be matched, but Ryan said the moment the war ended was memorable in its own way for his father.
“Dad was home on leave in New York in August 1945 when ships in the harbor all started blasting their signals in Morse Code—V, V, V, J,” said Ryan. “Dad had started the war in Pearl Harbor and was in Times Square on VJ Day.”
Years later, his father was always asked (once by a CNN reporter on the 60th anniversary), “How scared were you during the attack?” His answer was blunt.