Remembering Pearl Harbor and James Louis Wise

Originally published on December 7, 2011. Republished here in honor of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

70 years ago today a young man from Greenfield, OH survived and suffered from a tragedy that would forever mark his life and end the lives of so many of his friends ans shipmates. James Louis Wise, Seaman First Class, of Greenfield, was serving aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii when the air forces of the Japanese Empire began their early Sunday morning bomb runs on the just arising soldiers and sailors of America’s military establishment in the Pacific. It would mark the beginning of America’s entry into the Second World War and a personal war Wise would deal with the rest of his life.

No one of my generation doesn’t know the significance of December 7, 1941. I hope such is true of today’s generation. Have a discussion with your kids today.

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

16 thoughts on “Remembering Pearl Harbor and James Louis Wise”

  1. Bob and I visited the memorial @ Pearl Harbor. Our guide actually returned some very disrespectful Orientals to land after repeatedly telling them to be quiet and to not stand on the bell. I think everyone in our group breathed a collective sigh of relief. The memorial was indeed very humbling as well as moving So very grateful to our military women and men.

  2. War Vet, War World II Survivor, USS Arizona Survivor, but to me he was my Hero my Grandpa, Thank You All for the kind words, glad to to know all these years on he is still remembered and well thought of, and special to Larry for the article.

  3. They have done a great job with the memorial at Pearl Harbor ! I visited a few years ago ! Mr Jim Wise was a great Man ! Thanks to him for his service !

  4. larry,
    my father and 5 of his brothers served in world war II so as a child we heard stories but never unless my uncles were there it was not something my father openly discussed with us children. my uncles would come in and my dad would talk of thier landing at iwo jima . to thisday i have an article hangng on my fridge with the pics of my father and his brothers and thier service to our country.

  5. There were at least 2 other members of the McClain class of 39 who were on the Arizona and still remain there according to my Dad.

    1. Hi Charles!

      John A. Smith and Woodrow H. Wilson were the other two Greenfield boys. They were dad’s buddies and all were on the USS Arizona together. Dad was uptop during the attack and I think his buddies were down below and never made it out. Sad story and tragic loss as were all the losses on that day.

  6. When I saw Jim Wise’s name I instantly heard singing…”Red sails in the sunset way out on the blue”…he played this song on the juke box and always asked someone there in the steakhouse to dance. I was always scared and he would convince me that I would do just fine. He was a perfect gentleman and the best slow dancer I have ever
    had the pleasure of dancing with. If you didn’t know how to dance the beautiful slow dances he was the best of teachers. That is what I always remmber about him more than the scars on his face. Even though I was very young and kind of afraid of him, I knew the story behind those scars and considered it an honor when he would choose me to dance. His wife, Marion was one of the nicest people around as was the rest of the family.

      1. Hi Jim, I doubt very much that you knew me. Even Joey was younger than I was. I graduated in 1960 when I was 16 years old, a few months before my 17th birthday. Janet(Brown) Ellis
        used to be my sister-in-law and she was friends with Joey.
        I remember your Dad very much, loved to dance with him and watch him dance the slow dances. The steakhouse was a fun place to go.
        I watched the history channel all most all day yesterday(Sunday) as it was all about Pearl Harbor. I don’t think there are very many people around Greenfield that don’t think of your Dad when they see these programs, we none don’t even begin to comprehend what they had to go through.
        I do remember you but you were just young lad then.

  7. I have pics of me sitting on a chair he made for me that he put in the wine cooler behind the bar when he had the Rendezvous in the early 60s…. He would give me Hersheys chocolate bars and tell everyone that this was my little bar !!!! Mom said she would get mad at him because I would get it all over me … The first time this happen I was in one of those white sailer suits we all I guess had as kids . I know my dad had the greatest respect for him…. The things I remember most of him was when they moved to the Steak House and after Sunday mass we would go out there for lunch.. And as you know, is that I could put away food and so did Jim.. He always gave me a good size portion of potatoes, whether they be mashed or fried… He suffered alot from his burns but you would never know it from him !!!! He also like to be out on the water as I got pics of Marion and him and a slew of other people on Rocky Fork back in the hay day of the 55 GAL. Pontoon Boats ….

    1. Great Memories Steve! I was actually born upstairs where we lived over the Rendezvous, no hospital for me, mom had a neighbor lady perform the midwife duties.

      That place was my playground 🙂 Last time I went in there was couple of years ago and lo and behold there sat Sweet William ‘Bill’ Miller!! He still remember me and called me by my nick name ‘Butch’. Great memories!!!

  8. I was lucky enough to be a plank ower of the USS Missouri recommisioning crew. The first time we went to Pearl Harbor we conducted a reath cerimony for the Arizona, It was very moving. I can personnally atest to the emotions the arizona causes to a sailor. Your correct we must tell the children what happened there on dec 7th. thanks for the post.

  9. I use to live on State Rt. 41 accross the road from Marion, Bill, Joey and Tonya. And I can remember hearing stories about this.

  10. I have always been touched by what happened at Pearl Harbor. This past April my husband and I went to Hawaii for the first time and visiting Pearl Harbor was first on our list of “must sees”. I was not disappointed. Going out to the site where the sailors were entombed below was a somber and reverent moment. Not a soul spoke as we were taken out to the spot. Later, I was fortunate enough to meet and get autographs from four survivors, a memorable moment.

    1. Ruby and I also have been fortunate enough to have experienced Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. Nancy’s description is perfect and the solitude was wonderful. Unfortunately, I also had a second feeling that was not wonderful and in fact it was most upsetting especially when I think of Jim Wise and all of his disfigurement. At least 50% of the people there were Japenese clicking away multiple times with their Nikons and laughing and I cannot tell how mad I was……I had to leave before I caused an scene….

      1. My husband and I had the same experiance as you .It was a very sobering moment standing above the USS Arizona,where you could still see the oil seaping out of the ship and knowing all those sailors lives were lost forever..My father was one of the fortunate ones who survived, because if he hadn`t I wouldn`t be here. It also ifuriated me about their cameras clicking away, almost like they thought it was great. Did you know that Elvis P gave the goverment thousands of dollars of his own money to build the memorial site..Thanks Larry,Joey Wise Belles

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