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      During the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7th, 1941, a remarkable rescue took place, on that indelible date in American history.    The rescue involved a sailor on the ship next to the stricken USS Arizona and six men stranded aloft on the burning battleship.  It's a story of that shines forth a caring for one's fellow man and the value given to life.   


   Throw Us a Rope!

The planes appeared o'er the horizon,
And on Oahu, put their eyes on...
From the Land of the Rising Sun
,
         They'd come,
        
with torpedo, bomb and gun!

And o'er the peaceful waters of Pearl,
Their weapons of war
did hurl.

A surprise attack upon our nation!
As sailors
hurried, to each his station.

Of several, we've here a story to tell:
Of what to them that day befell.

On a platform port, atop a shaft,  1
Of their mighty fortress and battlecraft,
They were at a station, the foremast high,
To protect the Navy from
a
hostile sky

From here the sailors directed fire,
To defend the ship as well as they could...
But alas, an enemy bomber, up higher,
Sighted where, their ship in water stood...

The USS Arizona was critically hit!
A bomb had fallen to its starboard,
Igniting an inferno to rage on it!
So many perished where they were harbored!

To the dreadnought, it was a mortal blow,
A sitting duck in battleship row.

The seamen were trapped at that station height:
They couldn't get down, themselves to save...
The fire, the smoke, the hotness
, the fright!
The heated
metal
, their plight was grave.

Then, the smoke did drift, and gave them sight...

Of the ship beside
              preparing to get away and free.
 2
They shouted down
to Throw us a rope!
A sailor
named Joseph heard their plea, 
3
And gave th
ose
stranded in peril hope.

To the Vestal, the vessel abreast,
They
had pleaded their woeful request...

And Jo
seph looked for a weighted line to heave,
4
To throw
to them, and for them
receive.

Their distance apart, on these ships of fleet,
Across was
nearly seventy feet,
And forty up,
to the anxious eye...
With compassion, Jo
seph had to try.

An order to cut lines, he needed defy,
Or the sailors there would suffer and die.

And this sailor Joseph, Joe
Made a mighty throw
To
the ship a-burning nigh...
And
let the rope there fly!

He threw once, then threw twice,
And heaved again, the rope now thrice!
This time the rope was caught
,
To stretch a line, from boat to boat
.
Their venture yet
with danger fraught:
For b
etween and below, oil burned afloat!

The rope did sag, then ascend
And rescue was at, the farther end...
And hand o'er hand, they went across,
On the rope attached to Joseph's toss.

While they were seeking a place that's safe
The enemy swooped in, to shoot and strafe...
Yet all made it across in the heat of fray,
Across the fiery gap that day.
  

Because of the rope, thrown in strife,
The
se Arizonians now clung to life.  
5

When the deeds of war are sung,
Think of the mettle of men,
                      anvil-shaped in forge, 
And remember the one who flung
                      that rope,
                      the sailor Joseph George. 
6

It was a remarkable feat,
In freeing others
his eye did meet!
Americans in their greatest need,
From the lightning strike,
Japan decr
eed!

Lo Providence allowed
A breeze to clear the smoky shroud...
And Joe to be
there, in that place that day,
To throw th
at rope their dangered way.

―A moment of valor to remember,
On that darken'd date!...of seven
December.

                                                              John Riedell

1.  Port is the left side of the ship while starboard is on the right. 

2.
  The USS Vestal (AR-4) was tied to the USS Arizona (BB-39)

3.  The weight on the line was rope knotted around a ball of metal.   The rope thrown that day, was attached to a heavier line, the one that was strung between the two ships, and carried the weight of men to safety.   In the Glossary of Nautical Terms it's called a Monkey's Fist, a ball of woven line, to help heave a line.

4
.   Unknown for a long time for his action, Petty Officer Joseph George would eventually receive a bronze star, posthumously,  with a "V" for valor, which was presented by the Deputy Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Matthew Carter on Dec. 7th, 2017, to his daughter Joe Ann Taylor, named for her father.    On Dec. 7th, 1941, Joseph George was aboard the repair ship, the Vestal, moored next to the battleship Arizona, which suffered a devastating blow, when the forward magazines were detonated shortly after 8 a.m.

5
.   Nine were found named being at the battle station known as the port antiaircraft director, to which ten were assigned:  Harold Kuhn, Donald Stratton, Lauren Bruner, Alvin Dvorak, George Hollowell,  Russell Lott, Earl Riner, Fred Zimmerman and Frank Lomax .   Stratton wrote about the attack in All The Gallant Men.   When machine gun fire hit the starboard side of the station's steel enclosure, Stratton said Hollowell slumped where he sat, part of his skull gone.    When port guns run out of ammunition, he said Ensign Lomax ran below decks to get more, the last he saw of him.   This would leave seven of the named.  

        He also wrote, "The compartment we were in suddenly became claustrophobic, and two of the men bolted out the door to escape."  He never saw them again.  An attempt was made to discover the identity of other two who went across the rope.   In a published casualty list from the Arizona, a Fred Zimmerman is found, while a Russell Lott and an Earl Riner were listed as Arizona survivors on another list.  Kuhn went across he rope  first; Stratton was second; Bruner was fifth and Dvorak was last.  So it would appear Russell Lott and Earl Riner were the other men in that remarkable rescue. 

6.    Joseph's full name was Joseph Leon George.  It would seem reasonable to believe he was named Leon after his father's second name, Moses Leonides
.    
      A note about another Leonides i
n history:  there was Leonides I who was the King of Sparta in the late 400's B.C.    When the Persians invaded Greece, Leonides and the Greeks tried to stop them at the pass of Thermopylae.
      When the Persians crossed over the mountains another way, and threatened the Greeks from behind, Leonides sent most of the Greeks to safety in southern Greece and tried to hold off the Persians with a smaller force.  World Book says the death of Leonides at Thermopylae "is one of the most famous episodes in history.
"
      
Curiously, during the outbreak of the war on America in the Pacific, Joseph George helped others to safety, echoing in a way his long-ago predecessor in name.

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