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Utah group pays tribute to heroes of World War II

FILE: Maj. Emmett "Cyclone" Davis with his P-40, probably in New Guinea, in the fall of 1943.
FILE: Maj. Emmett "Cyclone" Davis with his P-40, probably in New Guinea, in the fall of 1943.
Steve Fidel, Davis family collection

SALT LAKE CITY — There are times in past that are indelibly etched in the consciousness of America’s collective psyche, and this month marks the anniversary of one of the most tragic and eventually triumphant times in the nation’s history.

“Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” When those words were spoken by then-President Franklin Roosevelt, few who heard them would ever forget them.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and six other military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu precipitated America's entry into World War II. This year marks the 75th anniversary of that momentous event.

A group of particularly patriotic Utahns paid homage to that historic occasion Saturday with an evening of reflection, remembrance and understanding to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force hosted the event at the Fort Douglas Museum. The Heber City-based group is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization “dedicated to the restoration, preservation and demonstration of the magnificent aircraft that dominated the skies during World War II.”

The organizational mission goal is “to perpetuate in the memory and hearts of all Americans the spirit in which these great planes were flown for the defense of our nation,” group spokesman David Barber said.

“Everyone living today has a debt of gratitude for the soldiers and civilians that contributed to the war effort,” Barber said. “(The enemy) was looking for world domination, and we were able to overcome that through the effort of the people here in the United States that gave up so much.”

The featured speaker was Tucker Davis, son of Emmett “Cyclone” Davis, a Utah native who was among the first American pilots in the air during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Davis said it is important to remember the sacrifice so many people made during World War II that enabled the country to survive and defeat the common enemy.

“It’s vitally important that we maintain a posture of strong defense at all times to protect this country,” he said. “Those (men and women) gave their lives so that we could have freedom in this country today.”