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Frank Stratton - Pearl Harbor Day

Among his many interests Frank Stratton makes models of Japanese WWII battleships and reads avidly about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Question one: Six Japanese aircraft carriers participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor — the Shokaku, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku, Kaga and the Akagi. Which four were later sunk at the Battle of Midway?

Question two: Of the seven U.S. battleships sunk or heavily damaged at Pearl Harbor — West Virginia, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Nevada, Maryland and Tennessee — which two were never repaired and returned to action?

Question three: What was the great tactical mistake the Japanese made when they attacked Pearl Harbor?

You’ll find answers to these and other questions on the jump of this story. But before you turn the page, consider this  — at the request of The Daily News, Longview retiree Frank Stratton came up with a Pearl Harbor quiz within an hour or two Thursday, mostly off the top of this head.

Stratton, a spry and fit former Weyerhaeuser Co. technician, is a zealous student of war — World War II in particular. He owns about 1,200 books about the conflict that take up nearly every nook of his home off Cascade Way. He also crafts model warships and war planes in fine detail.

“I want to know why someone won, and why someone lost,” he said, explaining why he tries to read accounts of battles and conflicts from each side’s perspective.

Stratton, 81, traces his interest in war to his youth. He grew up near Fort Lewis. His father was a cameraman who once helped film a war movie, and Stratton also remembers that his dad often flew Curtiss Jenny biplanes, a World War I training flyer.

“So I’ve always been interested in airplanes,” he said Thursday. He was too young to serve in World War II, but did serve nine years in the Army Reserves in the Tacoma area in the 1950s.

He believes President Franklin Roosevelt knew the Japanese were going to attack, citing Robert Stinnett’s “Day of Deceit.” He quotes evidence in Stinnett’s prodigiously researched book that alleges that the Roosevelt administration deliberately provoked and allowed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in order to bring the United States into World War II.

On the other hand, U.S. officials clearly underestimated the size of the offensive, which killed nearly 2,400 and injured almost 1,400, Stratton said.

Pearl Harbor continues to hold a powerful place in American history, he said, because it shattered the nation’s sense of invulnerability: “Who would dare attack the mighty U.S., even though military strategists knew the base could be vulnerable?”

Stratton has an encyclopedic knowledge of individual battles and the history of prewar developments that led to the greatest conflict the world has ever known.

“It’s been so interesting to me,” he said.

Here’s the rest of his effort to share that interest with TDN readers:

4. Of the 96 U.S. ships that were in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, how many were sunk or seriously damaged? a) 30 b) 25 c) 19

5. How many Japanese aircraft were shot down by Army Air Force pilots during the second wave of the attack?

a) 10 b) 7 c)16

6. How many Medal of Honor awards were won at Pearl Harbor?

a) 9 b) 16 c) 20

7. What famous phrase was uttered by Chaplain Lieutenant Howell Forgy during the battle that was used by songwriter Frank Loesser as the title of one of his best-remembered songs? a) “Lili Marlene” b) “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” c) “Over there.”

8.What was the first message broadcast from the control center when the attack began?

a) Tora, Tora! b) Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill. c) General Quarters. All hands to their battle stations.

9. What U.S. ship fired the first shot of the war at a Japanese submarine a few hours before the attack?

a) The minesweeper USS Condor b) the USS Ward c) the USS Antares

10. Which type of Japanese aircraft did the most damage to the U.S. fleet

a) Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” b) The Aichi D3A “Val” c) Mitsubishi A6M Zero


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