Friday, December 12, 2008

Maine’s Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored in Lebanon

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
North Berwick native and who is believed to be Maine’s last Pearl Harbor survivor Bernie Hall was honored this past Sunday with an award from American Legion Post 214 in Lebanon.
Sixty-seven years ago, while being stationed in Honolulu, HI, Hall was out getting a morning cup of coffee when he heard two explosions that would forever change his life, and the course of world history.
“I heard BOOM, BOOM! “ explained the 93-year-old World War II veteran, “while I was at the Scolfield Barracks.”
Hall is describing the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy” when Japan attacked the US naval forces stationed at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.
“It was a terrible, terrible incident,” said Hall. He remembered, “I lost my helmet getting into the back of the truck, and I was ordered to go quick and get one that fits!”
A pancake breakfast was held at the Lebanon Elementary School and about 139 people, including many veterans, were in attendance. As the winter’s first snowfall descended lazily outside, Hall was in good spirits, joking, laughing and shaking hands with the many well-wishers on the inside.
Once the official program began, several speakers took the podium to honor Mr. Hall, now a Lebanon resident. Speakers included Commander of Post 214 Steven White, 4th District Commander Charles Bennett, State Senator Richard Nass, State Representative Joan Nass, and representatives from Governor Baldacci, Senator Snowe and Senator Collins. Mr. Hall also received a letter of appreciation from the President of the United States of America.
Hall’s date with history may never have happened if he had not seen the Uncle Sam army recruitment poster on a particularly cold day in North Berwick 68 years ago.
“He saw that sign and said: That’s what I’m going to do,” said his daughter, June Boivin. “His cousin then drove him to Portland, they put him up in a nice hotel, and asked him: where do you want to go? He said: Hawaii!”
The events at Pearl Harbor led the United States to enter into World War II hostilities.

Caption: Commander of Post 214 Steven White presents Pearl Harbor survivor Bernie Hall with an award of honor from the American Legion Post 214 in Lebanon. (Weekly Sentinel photo)