The following article was written by Ed Munson, president and CEO of the Cypress Chamber of Commerce.
Commitment. Courage. Comfort.
Pearl Harbor survivor Jack Hammett made a commitment to join the United States Navy when he was 18. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor on the fateful day of December 7, 1941 when the Japanese Navy launched a full scale attack. As a Navy Corpsman, he was there to tend to the injured and stay out of harm’s way while doing it.
Hammett was the guest speaker at the recent Cypress Chamber Student and Business Breakfast at the Cypress Community Center. The breakfast, presented by Bandai America Incorporated, featured high school juniors from Cypress High School and Oxford Academy with members of the business community while they discussed the pros and cons of a particular industry. More than 3,700 students have attended the breakfasts over the years.
Hammett spoke of the terror everyone endured during the one hour and 50-minute barrage of bombs and bullets. He drew a comparison between the length of time for the attack with the length of time for the breakfast. He reminisced about how he saw fallen comrades, how he wondered if his wife was okay and how he might survive the ordeal. The packed room listened intently and then gave him a standing ovation. He was surrounded by students and mentors alike to shake his hand or get their pictures taken.
In a word, “outstanding,” remarked Cypress Chamber President/CEO Ed Munson, in summarizing Hammett’s words. “Jack is a true American hero, a hero of the world. His commitment to his country, the courage he showed under fire and the comfort he provided and continues to give to all Americans is profound.”
Hammett was stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor (Territory of Hawaii) on that fateful day when the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack. He was a navy corpsman and his duty was to care for the wounded and dead. Following two years in the Pacific, he saw action during the invasion of Europe on D-Day. Later he served on destroyers in the North Atlantic, North Africa and the Pacific.
During the Korean War he served with the U.S. Marines and continued his navy service until retiring as a Warrant Officer in 1959. As a 51-year resident of Costa Mesa, he has served the City of Costa Mesa as a reserve police officer, planning commissioner, city councilman and mayor. He was a licensed commercial pilot and instructor of both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
Hammett concluded his remarks with, “Please take care of our country.”
Then came the standing ovation and a tip of the chamber cap.
Chief Warrant Officer (ret) Jack Hammett in front of a display used when he visits local schools to talk about Pearl Harbor. Photo by George Fenton of Fenton Photography.
- Cypress Chamber of Commerce sponsors a student & business mentoring breakfast (oc-breeze.com)
- Pearl Harbor Survivors From Delco Visit Flower Show’s ‘Arizona’ Memorial (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Pearl Harbor Survivors Share Stories of Attack (abcnews.go.com)
- Pearl Harbor Day: A survivor recalls the Day of Infamy – CSMonitor.com (postamericana.wordpress.com)
- Pearl Harbor survivors group says it will disband (goerie.com)
- Pearl Harbor survivors remember the attack 70 years later – VIDEO (popwatch.ew.com)
- Pearl Harbor Survivors Return to Ships After Death – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- Two Pearl Harbor survivors in N.J. to speak at Brookdale Community College (nj.com)
- Few Pearl Harbor survivors remain in N.J. on 70th anniversary of Japan’s sneak attack (nj.com)
- Sierra College Friends of the Library present Pearl Harbor Survivor Louis Conter in Lecture at Nevada County Campus, March 14 (yubanet.com)