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    Family, friends honor fallen Hickam sergeant

    Family, friends honor fallen Hickam sergeant

    Photo By Master Sgt. Alexander Martinez | Durward Swanson and his escort (left), and Senior Master Sgt. Martin Sebok, an...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez 

    Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

    “The barracks now are silent where once your laughter rang, the steel guitar is broken where around the bunks we sang,” sang Durward Swanson as his raspy, aged voice cracked with emotion.

    Swanson, a 95-year-old survivor of the Dec. 7th, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu was reciting a song in memoriam of his late friend, Sgt. James Strickland, during the dedication of Strickland’s memorial marker Dec. 4, 2016.

    Also attending the ceremony were Strickland family members, event organizers and Pacific Air Forces Airmen, all of whom were able to see the unveiling of the stone marker located between three towering palm trees in the area where Strickland died.

    “We’ve heard partial stories growing up from my grandfather but he didn’t like to talk about it,” explained one of Strickland’s great nephews, Michael Gordon Bolton. “A lot of information has come to light in the last year and we’re so appreciative of the support.”

    Senior Master Sgt. Martin Sebok, a PACAF aircraft functional manager, was an officer with the Hickam Top III private organization last year when he decided he wanted to make this project a reality. He was able to secure the marker’s funding and get the organization to include in their bylaws they will maintain the marker from here on.

    “It’s a great feeling to know that [Strickland] finally gets to see this come to fruition,” Sebok said. “Seeing every one here - today is special and it’s something I’m going to hold on to.”

    In 1941, the PACAF headquarters building, located beside the memorial marker, was a 3,200-man barracks facility where Strickland and Swanson were barrack-mates and became friends. On the day of the attack, Strickland was fleeing the building when he was shot by Japanese gunfire. By his side was Swanson, who fled to get medical aid for his friend, but returned too late as Strickland had already passed away.

    “Different from Pearl Harbor, we too had our tragedy,” said Jessie Higa, a tour guide and volunteer Hickam historian. “[Swanson] has relived that day a lot, and his stories and memories from that day have been tucked away for many years. Today he gets to share them with us and honor his best friend.”



    Date Taken: 12.04.2016
    Date Posted: 12.04.2016 23:11
    Story ID: 216383

    Web Views: 161
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