December 13, 2009 — Costa Mesa, CA
On Decembrerr 7, 1941, near Pearl Harbor, in a rented house shared with 2 other Navy couples, Mary Jo and Jack were sharing a day off from Jack's Navy duty at the Navy Hospital. The landlord was collecting the rent money and as he was leaving he said, "Have you heard the radio? The Jap are attacking Pearl Harbor." Jack stepped out of the house and saw a plane fly over with big red circles, "meatballs", on the wings. And then he saw the smoke over Pearl Harbor. Jack and the other Navy men quickly returned to duty. A jap plane strafed their vehicle at the main gate but missed. Jack worked the next three days triaging the wounded as they arrived at the Hospital. Also the dead and wounded Japs were brought in to the Hospital. A side note: the Battleship USS Nevada attempted to leave the harbor but was heavly bombed and was beached. Jack said someone "parked" a Battleship on the lawn of the Hospital.
Jack wife, Mary Jo was left alone on December 7th. She quickly assembled the other wives and had them gather up the biggest knives they could. Since it was not know if the Japs were landing troops on the Island, the wives formed the "Butcher Brigade" Defense Force. Thank goodness they didn't have to be used. The Japs won't have stood a chance.
Jack went on to serve in the Navy through WWII. He saved a man's life by operating on him while at sea. No Navy doctor was available so Corpsman Hammett answered the call. In 1944 Jack was sent to England to set up a Hospital for the expected wounded from Normandy Beach invasion. Jack Hammett retired from the Navy as a Warrant Officer having served his country for over 20 years.
Jack Hammett was elected Major of the City of Costa Mesa, California. He created the Freedom Committee of Orange County which is a group of military veterans that speak to students about "Living History" and "Freedom isn't Free". He is a proud member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and has returned to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with his family.