As a US Air Force fighter pilot, Jay Waitte flew against the Warsaw Pact in the 1970s to guard against another surprise attack:
December 7th is the 79th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There were over 3,500 military and civilian casualties.
The attack seriously damaged the U.S. Pacific Fleet, including permanently sinking two battleships.
Of the 402 American warplanes stationed in Hawaii, 347 were either damaged or destroyed outright. Bombers, pursuit fighters, patrol seaplanes. That’s a casualty rate of 86%!
It was all over in 90 minutes.
Jump ahead to the 1970s. I was deployed in Europe, flying an F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber.
My deployment there was indirectly a result of that attack 79 years ago. My job was to guard the airspace over West Germany by sitting what we called “air defense alert” against the Warsaw Pact. Standing guard against another surprise attack.
Often, the other side just wanted to see what our response actions would be. They’d fly their jets directly at us. Not parallel to the border, but perpendicular to it, and at great speed.
NATO wanted to make sure they weren’t allowed to get into West German airspace. And thank God, we never faced the real thing.
It's been 79 years, and America and its allies are still standing in the post around the world.
Every year, people honor the courage and sacrifice of those at Pearl Harbor. Here are some photos from last year’s remembrance at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. You can visit the official Flickr page to see more photos and their YouTube page to see videos of the ceremony.
Seventy-nine years, and we still stand the post…and remember.