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PEARL HARBOR REMEMBERED 1940S WAR DISPLAY PLANNED AT HIGH SCHOOL.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

LANCASTER - Ken Creese was a 17-year-old seaman aboard the light cruiser USS Detroit when bombs began dropping on Pearl Harbor.

Moored in a berth at Ford Island, the Detroit fired its .50-caliber machine guns and 3-inch cannons at Japanese planes as Creese stood on the upper gundeck passing three-inch shells to the gunners.

``I've been asked many times if during the attack I was afraid,'' said Creese, now a retired aircraft worker in Lancaster. ``Maybe I blocked it out of my mind. I really don't remember. That's why they have young people in the service. They're trained to react and do as they are told. They don't really think about it.''

Creese will be one of a half-dozen World War II veterans who will be present Friday and Saturday evening at a World War II display set up by Lancaster High School students in conjunction with the ``Pearl Harbor'' movie.

The display will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Cinemark 22, on Avenue I at Valley Central Way.

The theater lobby will be filled with war photographs, teen-agers costumed as GIs, pilots and defense plant workers, and displays on the different aspects of the war: airmen, the war in Europe and the Atlantic, the war in the Pacific and Asia, the home front and Pearl Harbor.

Some 170 students worked on the displays.

``The students are doing this as their final project and also to honor our community's World War II veterans,'' Lancaster High history teacher Jaime Goodreau said.

The local veterans who will be present Friday and Saturday all have remarkable stories, Goodreau said.

Besides Creese, there will be another Pearl Harbor survivor, Bill Brady, who was on Ford Island when the Japanese planes attacked.

Nearly four years later, Army Air Force pilot Bill Klutterham watched an atomic bomb destroy Hiroshima, from a B-17 bomber that was flying escort to the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped the bomb. His wife, Millie, was a defense plant worker.

Carl Barnes was a B-17 flight engineer who survived 35 combat missions and parachuted three times out of stricken planes, once into Nazi-occupied France.

Flora Belle Reese was a Women's Air Service Pilot, flying planes around the United States to free male pilots for combat.

Charles Maragioglio landed with the U.S. Army on Utah Beach on D-Day. His brother died that day.

Robert Alvis, the local representative for the proposed World War II veterans memorial in Washington, D.C., will bring a collection of World War II artifacts such as ration books.

Creese, a past national commander of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, had been a sailor for eight months on Dec. 7, 1941.

That morning, he had just showered and shaved and was getting dressed to take a tour of Oahu when the ship's fire-and-rescue alarm sounded. Then the general quarters alarm sounded.

``At first we thought, when we heard the noise of airplanes we thought it was the Army and Navy doing military exercises. We thought, What the heck are they doing on Sunday morning? Creese recalled.

Normally assigned to a six-inch gun, which couldn't be fired in port, Creese was told to help pass ammunition to the three-inch anti-aircraft guns.

``A Japanese airplane flew over us. I saw the rising sun on the wings and on the fuselage. That's when I knew it had to be the Japanese,'' he said.

A torpedo passed under the Detroit's stern and several bombs narrowly missed his ship, Creese said.

Moored at Ford Island behind the Detroit were the Raleigh, another light cruiser, and the Utah, an old battleship used as a target. Tied up in berths normally used by aircraft carriers that were out to sea, both those ships were badly damaged.

Across Ford Island, a flat bit of land totally covered by military bases, the USS Arizona and two other battleships were sunk, a fourth capsized, and a fifth was heavily damaged.

``We were throwing up anti-aircraft shells like crazy. Maybe that's why they stayed away from us,'' Creese said.

Though he was on the gun deck, he was surrounded by steel shields and didn't see much of the battle as he concentrated on handling shells.

``I do remember I saw the guys from the Utah swimming for Ford Island and next a couple of Japanese aircraft coming down and machine-gunning those guys as they were swimming,'' Creese said.

He also heard the huge explosion from the Arizona as a bomb hit an ammunition magazine, sinking the ship within nine minutes.

As the attack wore on, the Detroit and other surviving ships sailed out to sink four Japanese transports said to be landing troops at Oahu's Barber Point. The transports proved to be imaginary.

The Detroit stayed at sea for three days searching for the Japanese fleet. Creese didn't realize the amount of damage done to Pearl Harbor in the attack until his ship returned.

``It was nothing but carnage,'' he said.

Most of the veterans who will tell their stories next weekend have come to Lancaster High to speak to Goodreau's classes.

``I try to have my kids meet with these people as much as possible because they're not going to be with us much longer,'' Goodreau said.

A special bond has developed between the teens and the Klutterhams. The Klutterhams accompanied students Friday on a field trip to see ``Pearl Harbor,'' which has received massive amounts of publicity but has also taken a drubbing from critics.

When the teens visited Chino's Planes of Fame Museum to inspect World War II warplanes, Bill Klutterham went with them, sitting in the pilot seat of the museum's B-17 as the students clambered through it.

The students say the veterans' stories bring history to life.

``There's a lot of stories,'' said Will Thornhill, 16, one of the World War II display steering committee members. ``It really gives you an insight into the way and how dramatic it was and how scary it was for them.''

Ironically, one of the teens putting together the display comes from one of America's World War II enemies. Matthias Brocheler, 17, is an exchange student from Germany.

Brocheler said he was not uncomfortable listening to accounts of men who dropped bombs a half-century ago on his homeland.

``I don't feel like I was there when they dropped the bombs,'' Brocheler said. ``I think I'm going to learn from World War II, but I'm not offended by it.''

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Lancaster resident Ken Creese, a Pearl Harbor survivor, raises the American flag in front of his home for the Memorial Day weekend.

(2) The USS Detroit was moored at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

(3) Ken Creese was a 17-year-old sailor on the USS Detroit during Pearl Harbor's attack.

(4) Navy veteran and retired aircraft worker Ken Creese is a past national commander of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 28, 2001
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