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Syverson residents remember the attacks on Pearl Harbor 74 years later

Posted 12/8/2015


Eau Claire (WQOW)
 - Monday marked the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which changed the lives of four local residents in Eau Claire. 

Ellen Hutterli said she was a 16-year-old junior in high school in 1941. She had just finished a Sunday shift at the local movie theater when she heard about the attacks. 

"I opened the door to the kitchen, and there was my mother ironing with tears rolling down her face, and my dad, he was almost crying too," Hutterli said. 

Hutterli said the first thing the family thought of was her cousin, Joseph, who was stationed at Wheeler Field. 

"The Japanese had come in and attacked Wheeler Field first because it had all of the airplanes," Hutterli said. 

Ernest "Pete" Mickelson was also in high school at the time. He said he knew many older students from his school who had graduated and joined the U.S. Navy.

"It was a horrible, horrible mess down there," Mickelson said. "I lost a lot of them on the USS Arizona, some of my friends. They were on there."

Mickelson said he was visiting his girlfriend the day after the attacks because President Franklin D. Roosevelt said he was going to make an announcement that morning. That was when Mickelson first heard the president say they were going to war with Japan. 

"That kind of turned everyone around," Mickelson said. "We knew we were the ones that would be going. On March 28, I got my notice inviting my to serve in the U.S. Navy."

Sylvia Schram was studying to be an army nurse at the time. 

"It was very frightening," Schram said. "We just knew it was changing our lives."

Schram and her two brothers grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and she was afraid they would have to enter the services.

"My father had died before that," Schram said. "I thought, what would my mother do?"

Bob Anderson enlisted to serve his country over a year after the attacks. 

"We enlisted in the marines, and trained others to go to Iowa Jima for the first landing of that war," Anderson said. 

Fortunately, Schram's older brother was excused from the war because the nation needed farmers producing food at the time, and her younger brother was excused for medical reasons.

Hutterli waited two weeks after the bombing before she received a letter from her cousin station at Wheeler Field saying he was safe. 

Grace Lutheran Communities has been helping our friends and neighbors in communities all over the Chippewa Valley since 1960. The non-profit organization specializes in rehabilitation, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, child care, independent living, and adult day services.

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