Monday marked tragic day

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The images of that day 74 years ago are both striking and sorrowful.

The surprise attack by the Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbor pushed the U.S. into World War II. It was as shocking to Americans then as the Sept. 11 attack was in 2001.

In all, 2,403 Americans were killed and another 1,178 were wounded.

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Monday marked Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and in honor of that day, we’ve included a short profile of one local individual who was impacted by the attack. Her story appeared in a December 2014 edition of The Daily Leader. It’s the sacrifice of individuals like this that made America the great nation it is today.

Ovia Sandifer joined the Army Nurse Corps a year after the attack.

“I just thought it was the thing to do. You are excited and wanted to do your part,” Sandifer said in 2014.

She was eventually stationed overseas where she worked in one of three evacuation hospitals. Her tent held about 40 patients on cots. Her group held soldiers for about 24 hours while they got their injuries treated. They provided hot meals and clean clothes. From there they were transported to a field hospital.

“We got patients from the Battle of the Bulge. Most of them were frozen — feet, legs and hands,” Sandifer said. “I had a patient whose right hand was frozen. It was practically gone. After I went home from the war, I received a letter from him that he wrote with his left hand to let me know he could still write. To me, that was one of the most wonderful things that happened.”

While Sandifer was in France, she received her first lieutenant bar and a Bronze Star, which is awarded for acts of heroism and/or merit. She was one of eight nurses who received the award directly from General George Patton that day. She said he personally pinned it to her, and she has the photo to prove it.

To Sandifer and all veterans who fought in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor: Thank you for your service.