Playing the “Where were YOU ‘When”- Game?
By Dick Hefton
Where were you December 7, 1941, when the Japanese Navy Attacked Pearl Harbor to force our nation into World War II?
I THINK WE HAVE A WINNER! (With no fear of contradiction, I doubt there is challenger to me found listed on our club roster.)
December seven, forty-one fell on a Sunday. It was one of those remarkably warm and sunny days Oklahoma City finds memorable even without the revelation at work changing our world that day. On that Sunday, by habit our little family had early breakfast before dressing up for church services. After Mother placed a roast in the oven for lunch, then off to church we drove. Nothing out of the ordinary altered morning routine, nor was the pastor’s sermon off season.
Back home again, conversation at lunch was pleasantly normal. So, thereafter I changed into grubbies and set out on my bike to hang with the neighborhood gang for a fun afternoon. But something seemed different, abnormal. So, I circled the block. There was no street traffic, nor kids on the lawns more like late evening when they head home and dads are putting cars up? But it was at about 2:00pm when I was deciding to turn for home, Guy Fuller came out of his house heading straight for me. He called me by name – oddly unfamiliar for an older guy, but then, I knew he took a shine on my older sis who was about his age. I parked at the curb as he came up and he asked me if I had heard the news? What news? “The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor today!” By ’41 people of all ages (including 11-year-olds like me) knew about the aggression the Japanese army and navy were prosecuting in the eastern Pacific with atrocities in China, Manchuria and Indochina. Our nation was nevertheless caught by total surprise by a force that took more than three thousand casualties in a shocking awakening that also delivered great material damage and greater psychological trauma to our country.
Guy had to explain to me “where is Pearl Harbor” before the consequences of his disclosure struck its meaning! Life for a near-12-year-old had forever changed as had our world even as my bike got put away that afternoon.
The next morning our whole Putnam Heights Elementary students and staff were assembled in the auditorium to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt make his official declaration of war where he gave the Japanese its indelible Identifier “A Day That Shall Live in Infamy?”
War time moved on and I don’t recall any particular memorable contact with Guy Fuller after that momentous afternoon. Our family moved back to my birthplace, Muskogee, a year and a half later. Fuller, I later learned graduated Classen High school in 1944 and enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately.
Guy Wesley Fuller shortly found himself assigned to the 67th Regiment of Gen. Patton’s 2nd Armed Division driving a light tank during the Ardennes offensive which included the infamous “Battle of the Bulge!” He stayed in the theatre after war’s ending, discharged in 1947.
After a distinguished combat service Fuller came home to Oklahoma City, married Rita Ruth St. Clair. He attended OU College of Medicine and over time they had four boys. Between his residency and private practice (at Baptist, Deaconess and Mercy), Guy delivered an estimated 7,000 babies over his medical career spanning some 40 years. He passed away January 6, 2013.
His community service involvement is legendary as was his duty to his church and Boy Scout camping.
Three of their four sons became medical doctors with practice in Oklahoma (the youngest, an engineer) so the Fuller Family tradition of service ranges 80 years.
Some fragments of war provide a good ending. A benefit of aging often provides “The Rest of a Good Story!