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Merrimack Valley

December 7, 2013

Gloucester native recalls attack on Pearl Harbor in 'Salute to Veterans'

On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Delar “Danny” VanSand was standing at attention as the American flag was being raised aboard the USS Nevada in Pearl Harbor.

Since arriving in Hawaii, the gunner officer had kept the sailors busy with practice, damage control and abandon ship drills. Peace prevailed in the Pacific.

As they saluted the flag that morning, the band suddenly sped up playing the national anthem. The group was confused and even moreso when a loudspeaker ordered them to take battle stations.

“On Sunday? Drills in Port?” VanSand, of Gloucester, recalls wondering in his first-person account which appears in “North of Boston: Salute to Veterans,” the coffeetable book being released this week and celebrated at launch events in North Andover and Beverly.

“One of the recent recruits came running down to the boiler rooms shouting. ‘It’s War! The Japs are attacking!’ We grumbled, ‘Shut up, kid, it’s just another drill.’”

Of course, it wasn’t. And what followed would go down in history as the true beginning of American involvement in World War II.

“I will never forget the sight,” VanSand writes. “Blood flowing three inches thick and a foot wide ... Bodies of my shipmates were stacked like cordwood. Shock.”

To read VanSand’s full account of this pivotal day in history, along with hundreds of other photos and stories about North of Boston veterans who served dating back to the Civil War, visit www.eagletribune.com or call 978-946-2000.

IF YOU GO What: "Salute to Veterans" launch parties. When: Thursday, Dec. 12 and Friday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Where: Thursday at The Salem News, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly; Friday at The Eagle-Tribune, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover. How: Events are free and open to the public. For more information call 978-946-2241. * Please note the changed date of the North Andover event.

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