Thank you Vice Commander Chris Jones for the lovely introduction.
I think it important that everyone knows that I am retired Air Force and I am going to be giving you a bit of Navy History… I know if I err, that my errors will immediately be pointed out by Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen, Captain, US Navy retired, who I noticed is seated in the audience.
As with many naval traditions, the United States Navy adopted that of morning and evening colors from the British. The practice of morning colors has always been conducted at 0800 hours and was first codified in the 1843 Rules and Regulations for the government of the Navy.
Approximately five minutes before colors, the word is passed, “First call, first call to colors.”
At daybreak on December 7, 1941, some 77 years ago today……. at the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the U.S.S. Oklahoma’s band, under the direction of Chief Petty Officer James Brazier Booe, was assembling on the ship’s stern to render 8 o’clock morning colors.
Shortly after the band’s assembly a few minutes before 0800 hours on this otherwise calm Sunday morning and before the first call to colors, they found themselves under attack by Japanese military forces.
The surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 a.m., the second at 8:55 a.m. By 9:55 a.m., it was all over. By 1:00 p.m. the six carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.
Some 3,500 Americans, including Chief Petty Officer James Brazier Booe, were killed or wounded in the attack. Three hundred fifty aircraft were destroyed or damaged and all eight battleships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were either sunk or badly damaged.
This, Flagler County’s Disabled American Veterans Post 86 is named for Chief Petty Officer Booe, the first Flagler Countian killed in action in WWII… he is my great-great-uncle, and… because we are observing Pearl Harbor Day, today, I was asked to say a few words about Bandmaster Booe.
But before I do, I would like to say that I have been a life member of DAV post 86 since October 7, 1978 and that my mother, Margaret Booe Deen, was your honored speaker when the post received their charter and later when the post home was dedicated in Flagler Beach.
Petty Officer Booe moved to present-day Flagler County from Fountain County, Indiana with his parents and four brothers in February 1913, when his father assumed the position as manager of Haw Creek Farms, which consisted of 1,975 acres of timber and farmland in the Haw Creek area.
James Brazier Booe left Flagler County and enlisted in the Navy in Jacksonville on June 4, 1919. He was immediately sent to boot training at Hampton Roads, VA. Early in his naval career, he played trombone in the bands assigned to the U.S.S. Birmingham and the U.S.S. Cleveland
In the winter of 1925, he passed the examination for Band Master and began to serve as Assistant Bandmaster for the band stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
In November 1927, he was transferred from the Pensacola NAS to the U.S.S. Wright (airplane tender) in port at Norfolk, VA, and in March 1928 he was assigned to the carrier U. S. S. Lexington based at San Pedro, CA.
James was back in Pensacola in 1932 and in October 1934, he was promoted to Bandmaster and assigned to the U.S.S. California at Guantanamo, Cuba.
In October 1935, Chief Booe was the Bandmaster on the U.S.S. Saratoga and was selected with his group of musicians to play aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Houston which was carrying President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on his vacation tour.
Later James was transferred to the battleship Oklahoma and was aboard her when she was sunk at Pearl Harbor.
Today I proudly wear… As I do each December 7th… a USS Oklahoma cap in memory of Uncle James and his 393 shipmates who went down with him on their ship
During WW II, over 400 men and women from this small county with a population of just over 3,000 at the time, served our country with pride.
In closing I would just like you to remember one thing when you leave here today – A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, reserve or deceased – is someone who at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount, “up to… and including my life.” – what a legacy!