We wish to give a special "THANK YOU" to Jan Hogan of the Las Vegas / Summerlin View newspaper for her wonderful article in the May 25th edition of the View about the Pearls of Honor projects....
Pearl Harbor survivor John Finn, 100, signs Dana Harbaugh?s custom Pearl Harbor motorcycle in 2009. His likeness and Congressional Medal of Honor are engraved on the motorcycle?s gas tank. On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn kept gunning at the Japanese Zeros even though he took 20 hits from flying shrapnel during the attack. "He?s a rock star in the veterans? world," Harbaugh said.
There were 2,403 deaths as the result of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Dana Harbaugh is out to see that their sacrifice, and the valor of those who survived, is never forgotten.
He has taken on the task of writing a coffee table book, setting up the website www.pearlsofhonor.com and using his love of motorcycles to outfit one in a Pearl Harbor theme and display it at events.
"It's become, like, my life," he said. "I have a duty to uphold this oath."
Harbaugh's affinity for remembering the tragic event stems from serving nearly seven years in the Navy as an air crewman. His service included Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
The oath he's sworn to uphold was made in 2000. That's when Harbaugh was teaching computer classes to older veterans in Southern California. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association met in the same building. He approached them, got hooked and eventually was made an honorary member. As such, he took an oath to follow its motto: Remember Pearl Harbor and keep America alert.
Harbaugh, 48, who lives just north of Summerlin, took his themed motorcycle to Mountain View Lutheran School, 9550 W. Charleston Blvd., twice and spoke with students. The decorated bike "was like a magnet," he said. A teacher later told him that all the children had gone on the Internet to learn more about Pearl Harbor.
He also has been interviewed on radio, spoken before the American Legion Post 149, ridden the bike in parades and made appearances with it at special events.
Ed Hall, 86, was a truck driver for the Army Air Corps at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. He said Harbaugh's devotion to honoring that tragedy would result in more people understanding its significance.
"It's not really taught in school, not enough," he said. "Many people don't even know where Pearl Harbor is or even what it is."
Harbaugh used his skills as a longtime photographer to take an estimated 30,000 pictures of the survivors at various events over the years. They, too, are part of his mission.
"Everyone would ask me for copies, and they all wanted different shots, so I figured I'd put them (the photos) in a book," he said.
That book is titled "Pearls of Honor: Their Duty to Remember." He plans to self-publish it and has had a sample printed. But he said its content still needs work and has no set completion date.
In 2008, he bought a new Harley-Davidson Cross Bones motorcycle and began having it engraved with depictions from that fateful day: a quote from Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto on awakening a sleeping giant; depictions of the vessels that were torpedoed and bombed; and the number of soldiers who died in the attack. The USS Arizona also is on it, seen in three stages -- as it looked at sea, how it looked after being torpedoed and the monument at Pearl Harbor. In all, 1,177 men died on that ship.
Sandy Steiner of Chrome Fusion and his son, Jason Steiner, did the hand engraving. Dwight Purcell of Purcellz Customz did the paint work. Shirley Zanelli of BadAss Seats did the leather work.
Sandy Steiner said the depictions took "a million and a half hours" to complete. He is an Army veteran, and while most of the shop's jobs are intricate, "this was the most engraving we've ever done on a motorcycle."
The bike was finished in 2009. It's been named Metal of Honor.
Pearl Harbor survivor John Finn is 100. His likeness is engraved on the gas tank, as is his Congressional Medal of Honor. He signed the gas tank next to his image.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn kept gunning at the Japanese Zeros even though he took 20 hits from flying shrapnel during the attack.
"He's a rock star in the veterans' world," Harbaugh said.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, he'll have Metal of Honor at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, he plans to attend Pearl Harbor Survivor Association events in California and Nevada.
Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.