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Af­ter­math of Pearl Har­bor

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - In The Issue - By El­iz­a­beth Rob­bins,

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor gal­va­nized the na­tion, in­clud­ing Hot Springs and Gar­land County. On Dec. 8, guards were placed at the Army and Navy Hos­pi­tal gates and at Car­pen­ter and Rem­mel dams while, in front of The Sen­tinel-Record and New Era news­pa­per of­fice on Cen­tral Av­enue, young news­boys sang “God Bless Amer­ica.”

And on Dec. 8, young men from here vol­un­teered to serve their coun­try — one was Pan­cho Rowe. On Dec. 7, he was a care­free 19-year-old who had stayed out late the night be­fore at a party at Fountain Lake. Work­ing a Sun­day shift as a soda jerk at Sch­neck's Drug­store, he heard that the Ja­panese had bombed Pearl Har­bor. He later re­called a re­ac­tion that many oth­ers shared, “I didn't know where Pearl Har­bor was.” He en­listed on Dec. 8. (By Jan­uary, he was serv­ing in the Army Air Corps, and for the next four years he was a bomber pi­lot in the Pa­cific.)

On Dec. 8, the Red Cross Civil­ian De­fense or­ga­nized stand­ing com­mit­tees and out­lined plans. The meet­ing in­cluded ev­ery med­i­cal agency in town, the fu­neral homes, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety Wel­don Rasp­berry, and hos­pi­tal groups. They dis­cussed the for­ma­tion of a home guard and plans for a prac­tice black­out with all sirens in the city sound­ing. By Dec. 10, a County De­fense Sav­ings Staff with Cir­cuit Judge Earl Witt as chair­man had been or­ga­nized.

On Dec. 11, Hot Springs had its first air raid drill at the air­port, and the Amer­i­can Le­gion was put in charge of su­per­vis­ing black­out drills in the city and county. Hot Springs and the ru­ral county ar­eas were di­vided into sec­tions, and a cap­tain was put in charge of each. The lo­cal USO, which was sched­uled to close on Dec. 30,

ap­pealed for help to keep open in light of the na­tional emer­gency.

On the same day, the per­son­nel of an air­craft spot­ting sta­tion at the air­port was an­nounced. Di­rected by the Amer­i­can Le­gion, 30 vol­un­teers, some of them women, manned the sta­tion in six-hour shifts, 24 hours a day. Frank Shea was named head of the Civil­ian De­fense com­mit­tee of the Amer­i­can Le­gion, which would work with the Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety and with Sher­iff Mar­ion An­der­son to make de­fense plans for the Hot Springs area. All war veter­ans were urged to vol­un­teer their ser­vices to the de­fense pro­gram.

Res­i­dents who tried to buy tires on Dec. 11 found that the gov­ern­ment had that day banned their sale. Peo­ple check­ing the ra­dio sched­ule found that CBS had can­celed a sched­uled Dec. 11 broad­cast by Charles A. Lind­bergh from an Amer­ica First rally. Iso­la­tion­ism had ended on Dec. 7.

Th­ese were just a few of the ef­fects felt in Gar­land County dur­ing World War II's first four days. In the four years ahead, ev­ery as­pect of life here would be trans­formed. While thou­sands from Gar­land County left to fight in ev­ery theater of war, those left be­hind fought, as Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt urged, on “One front and one bat­tle where ev­ery­one in the United States — ev­ery man, woman, and child — is in ac­tion. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives.”

pho­tog­ra­phy cour­tesy of the Gar­land County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety

More than 30,000 sol­diers came to the Army Re­dis­tri­bu­tion Sta­tion that took over the Ar­ling­ton Lawn, and De­Soto, and Ma­jes­tic ho­tels dur­ing WWII.

Clock­wise, from left: draftees depart from the Mis­souri Pa­cific De­pot; vol­un­teers and sol­diers at the USO club at 514 ½ Cen­tral Ave.; J. C. (Pan­cho) Rowe, like many oth­ers, was soon train­ing for war; and Hot Springs’ first air raid drill, Dec. 11, 1941.

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