Remember Pearl Harbor

Vets in the Attack Remember too Well

By Joe Maglitta*

Southampton-After 38 years, the visions of dark smoke, screaming iron, and death from lost peace at Pearl Harbor burn vivid for Navy veteran Edward F. Borucki.

“Look here,” says Borucki, prying open a leather-bound volume of old newspaper clippings.  He narrates page after page of war lore.

And, cooly as a museum tour guide, Borucki displays his many uniforms.  One of them, tan and pressed crisp, is his old Navy outfit.

“I had a buddy who bought me a ham sandwich the night before.  The next day he was blown up.”Borucki recalled.

Keeping alive the “Day of Infamy” is a big part of life for Ed Borucki, national adjutant of the Pearl Harbor Attack Veterans.

A Holyoke native who now lives on East Stree, Borucki enlisted in 1939 and served aboard the U.S.S. Helena.  Sixteen months later, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft launched the infamous attack on the U. S. military base in Hawaii.

“I spent V-J Day back at Pearl Harbor.  I had come back.” said Borucki recently.  Borucki says the attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,300 but united Americans.

“My brother Walter enlisted the next day on Dec. 8” Borucki explains, seated at a dining room table at his East Street home. “He died Aug. 17, 1942 on a destroyer in the North Atlantic.”

“Today there’s a lack of patriotism.  In the service, we’re not getting the right caliber of people to conduct armed war.  We want America to be better prepared.  Only to prevent another Pearl Harbor.”

The Pearl Harbor veterans group, based in Ludlow, claims a membership of 5,000 in 50 states.

They are concerned that Pearl Harbor Day doesn’t become just a half-way marker between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Entering it 24th year, the group was begun in a restaurant in Holyoke by “three or four” attack veterans.  It has grown slowly since then.

Borucki, 59, a business teacher at Chicope Comprehensive High School, avoids preaching about the horrors of war and its effect on survivors.

Instead, the Polish-born father of seven sons sells buttons and other trinkets to help the families of war dead.  Lately, Borucki has sold on the Boston Common at the Oct. 2 visit of Pope John Paul II and around Springfield

“We are trying too, to take care of veterans.” he explains.  “in Washington, they’re trying to cut down the Veterans Administration.”

“The average age of the World War II vet is about 60 now.  They need more treatment.”

Unabashedly patriotic, Borucki wears and American flag pin and an American Legion button on his label.  His wife Viola served a visitor coffee on a napkin emblazoned with the U. S. Marines emblem.

Around Western Massachusetts Borucki is known as a hightly-active veterans advocate and isn’t afraid to say so.

Besides being the Southampton Veterans Agent, he belongs to several local groups.  They include the Holyoke Soldiers Home, the Southampton American Legion, the Franklin-Hampshire County district legion, the Chicopee Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Polish-American Veterans.

“It’s important because somebody has to keep us alert and strong,” Borucki said.

He is wary about the future of America and dead opposed to the all-volunteer army as a watchdog of liberty.

“People talk about people pulling together over the situation in Iran.  That’s not patriotism,” he said.  “In school, I’m the only one in a class of 23 kids that stands for the pledge of allegiance.”

Above all, Borucki is determined not to let America forget the attack on that Sunday morning almost four decades ago.

“Some guys from Pearl Harbor still wake up in the middle of the night screaming.  Other people died for their country.  That means something.” he asserted.

Return to the Edwards Public Library website.

*Possibly from The Daily Hampshire Gazette (See Scrapbook #90)