Wilmingtonians honored during Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary commemoration

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Photos, an air mask and other from
A memorial exhibit at the Hannah Block Center has photos, jacket, sunglasses, and an aviation helmet, oxygen mask and goggles of Lt. General George S. Boylan Jr. (Photo by Christina Haley)

WILMINGTON — Dozens of public officials and area veterans were in attendance at the 75th  Anniversary Pearl Harbor Commemoration event at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center.

The ceremony took place at 1:25 p.m., the local time at which the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii began. The event sent the United States into battle and trusted the nation to become a member of the “Allies” of World War II.

“Three Wilmington men were killed in action that day in Pearl Harbor. I want everyone to remember that,” Wilbur Jones, chairman of the World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition, said. “We can’t forget; three Wilmington boys died at Pearl Harbor and all were on memorable ships that day.”

We can’t forget; three Wilmington boys died at Pearl Harbor and all were on memorable ships that day.” — Wilbur Jones, chairman of the World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition.

Jones said dozens of other Wilmington natives were stationed in Oahu that day. He spoke about the many men and women who were on the island, and some who fought overseas in Europe. Among them was Col. Robert Newman, USAF (Ret.) World War II B-17 Bomber Pilot, who few in France during the War in January 1941. He joined Jones and shared his experience as a B-17 Bomber Pilot during World War II.

Remarks were also made the children of Lt. General George S. Boylan Jr., USAF, a highly decorated Wilmington native Air Force Lt. General. The exhibit is sponsored by his children, Louise and George W. Boylan, who also helped with the unveiling and dedication of his memorial at the arts center.

The dedication of the exhibit in the lobby museum, is to honor the career and memory of Boylan. Shortly after earning his wings and commission as a second lieutenant, Boylan flew over the first Liberty ship launching at the Wilmington shipyard on Dec. 6, 1941, considered a good omen.

Later Boylan piloted B-25 Mitchell bombers chasing German submarines in the Atlantic, earning his first Air Medal. He received the distinguished Flying Cross as an 8th Air Force B-24 Liberator Bomber Pilot and squadron commander flying missions over German-occupied Europe in 1943-1944. He finished his distinguished career with Pentagon senior management service in Air Force headquarters, retiring in 1974.

The memorial exhibit was unveiled by Boylan's children during the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration.
The memorial exhibit was unveiled by Boylan’s children during the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration.

The Boylan exhibit includes his WWII steamer trunk and three-star jacket; “25-mission crush” hat; photographs; artifacts; a model of his 93rd Bomb Group B-24; a bomber aviator’s combination helmet, goggles, oxygen mask, and intercom microphone; and a newspaper photo as the Azalea Festival grand marshal.

The exhibit can be viewed at the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, 120 S 2nd St. in Wilmington, during normal operation hours. 

Watch the full live Facebook video of the ceremony courtesy of the City of Wilmington: