Among the 2,403 Americans killed 79 years ago in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were at least 12 Long Islanders.
They hailed from Great Neck in western Nassau to Mattituck in eastern Suffolk, serving aboard three United States Navy ships and at Honolulu's Hickham Field. At 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, the first Japanese dive-bomber appeared over Pearl Harbor: Torpedoes, guns and bombs attacked the airfields and docked ships before a second wave about 55 minutes later.
The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt formally entered the United States into World War II, proclaiming the day of the attack "a date which will live in infamy."
On Long Island Monday morning, ceremonies are scheduled to commemorate those who died in the infamous sneak attack.
But, as at other ceremonies of all sorts during the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions mean smaller and attendance-capped commemorations in 2020.
In Farmingdale, the American Airpower Museum is hosting its annual "Dropping of the Roses" Pearl Harbor Anniversary Memorial Ceremony, in which a vintage military aircraft departs Long Island to drop roses over the Statue of Liberty "at the exact time of the attack," 12:55 p.m. New York time, said museum manager Lawrence Starr. The commemoration has been repeated annually since 2000. It usually draws a crowd of 350, according to museum spokesman Robert Salant. But this year, the event is being restricted to 50 or fewer attendees and closed to the public.
And in Long Beach, there’s a private ceremony being held virtually beginning at 11 a.m., sponsored by the City of Long Beach Joint Veterans Organization. The ceremony can be viewed at the Facebook pages of Long Beach and VFW Post 1384.
According to Newsday research published in 1991, Long Islanders killed at Pearl Harbor included: Edward Munroe Bates Jr., of Great Neck; Oran Merrill Brabbzson, of East Meadow; Francis Lloyd Carey, of Roosevelt; Harry Gregory Chernucha, of North Merrick; Michael Peleschak, of New Hyde Park; Arthur Severin Rasmussen, of Huntington; Mitchell Cohn, of Woodmere; Kenneth Lyle Jayne, of Patchogue; John T. Haughey of Hicksville; Russell M. Penny of Mattituck; Walter J. Zuschlag, of Suffolk County; and Carl A. Johnson, of Sayville.
The men are among the 40 New Yorkers killed at Pearl Harbor.
According to Bill Stratemeier of the Long Island Air Force Association, there were 15 local survivors from Pearl Harbor who used to attend the Farmingdale ceremony. The last one to attend was Seymour Blutt, who died in 2018.