Remembering Wyoming Heroes on Pearl Harbor Day
Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, which claimed the lives of over 2,400 Americans. Nearly 417,000 brave United States soldiers were killed in the war that followed. On this dark day, we are reminded of their service and sacrifice.
Among the Pearl Harbor casualties were three United States Navy officers from here in Wyoming. Machinist Mate Second Class Elmer Emil Christensen, Seaman First Class Delbert Ray Fisher and Fireman Second Class James Orries Morgareidge were serving aboard USS Arizona when the BB-39 battleship was sank by the Japanese surprise attack.
All of those men demonstrated courage and valor, including two Wyoming natives who were later honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty".
Cheyenne's Vernon J. Baker, United States Army First Lieutenant, was among the first African American soldiers to receive our nation's highest honor in 1997. Baker was given the prestigious citation for his extraordinary heroism on April 5 - 6, 1945, when he unarmed a German machine gun emplacement near Viareggio, Italy, and later led his battalion's advance through enemy mine fields while facing heavy fire.
Another Cheyenne native, United States Army Technical Sergeant Charles F. Carey, Jr. was honored for his courage on January 8-9, 1945, in Rimling, France, when he entered a house occupied by enemy forces, taking down two snipers and returning minutes later with 16 prisoners. The next day, Carey was shot down after successfully rescuing four of his fellow soldiers from a house that had been surrounded by German infantry.