Proud of East Texas: Pearl Harbor daughter

Proud of East Texas: Pearl Harbor daughter

(KLTV) - "Torah, Torah, Torah." That was the signal for the Japanese fleet to attack Oahu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

Margaret Byers and Dr. Perry Byers were there that historical day and have shared their story through letters and writing with their family.

December 7, 1941, 7:55 a.m., the quiet of a Hawaiian Sunday morning is disrupted by the roar of airplanes. Marti Wetherholt's mother and dad, Margaret and Perry Byers were just waking up in their quarters at Scofield barricks, when they heard the sound of unfamiliar engines.

"They looked out, and sure enough they saw red emblems on the planes, and then the bombs starting to drop," Marti said.

Perry, who was an Army orthopedic surgeon, and his 7 and a half month pregnant wife, dressed quickly, and ducking the Japanese strafing and bombs, went immediately to the Scofield hospital.

"They didn't have a lot of medical supplies because they were destroyed," said Marti.

Margaret, along with the other women at the hospital, began rolling bandages while her husband went directly into the operating room. Casualties from Pearl Harbor and Higham and Wheeler airfields soon began filling the hospital corridors.

"There were just so many injuries and they just keep going, they never changed operating gowns or anything," Marti recalled. "By the time he finished 76 hours later, this is horrible to say, but he was in blood nearly up to his knees."

Hoping to move the women and children to a safer place, soldiers loaded them into a van, but when the Japanese planes began strafing the roads, they were told to get out and hide in a pineapple field.

The Byers were only able to see each other briefly before Margaret was put aboard a ship with other pregnant women, and mothers with their children.

"She'd gone through the unknown, the uncertainty. Will I ever see my sweetheart again?" said Marti.

While Margaret was headed toward home by ship, Perry was sent to Guadalcanal and other war zones to set up field hospitals.

The Byers' son, Allan, arrived only days after Margaret returned to Galveston. Dr. Byers would not see his son until Allan was 18 months old.

"That was the first time he laid eyes on his son," Marti said.

Marti says her dad seldom talked about the attack on Pearl Harbor, that plunged America into World War Two and took 3,435 American lives.

"He didn't talk about it much because it was horrendous," she said.

However, Margaret, realizing that she had been part of one of the most important events in our nation's history, wrote accounts of that time for her family and shared her experiences with numerous groups.

Marti believes that her parents' experience at Pearl Harbor shaped not only their lives, but their children's lives as well.

"They came back, and they laughed a lot, joked a lot, and enjoyed life," she said.

So is the character of our country's greatest generation.

Perry Byers passed away in 1977, with Margaret following in 2003.

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