William “Bill” Hughes was asleep in the radio operator bunk room of the USS Utah when a thunderous explosion almost threw him from his cot. Today, the 95-year-old veteran still has vivid memories of that day, Dec. 7.1941, when a wall of Japanese warplanes appeared, dropping bombs on Pearl Harbor.
Hughes’ battleship was in port that day, and in the first minutes of the assault it was struck by torpedoes and sank. Dozens of men were killed; more than 450 survived. “At 7:55 a.m. [Hawaii time], we were hit by two torpedoes, 20 seconds apart,” Hughes recalls. Now he honors the heroism of those around him, including some who operated boats to ferry personnel from the doomed ship.
Listen to the harrowing tales of Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Hughes and patriotic music performed by the Allen Community Band at 7:30 pm, Saturday, November 11, at the Allen Public Library.
The concert will begin with the National Anthem, led by Chris Xeros, Korean War veteran and founding conductor of the Richardson Symphony and Allen Philharmonic
The band’s first selection will be America Triumphant March, by Keith Latey. Serving as an Army Bandsman in both World Wars and the Korean War, Latey retired from military service in 1956. The second song, Armed Forces – The Pride of America, honors all branches of the armed services. During this piece, members of the audience are invited to stand as the musical theme of their respective branch of service is played and the flag is presented on stage. Henry Fillmore’s America Exultant follows. Fillmore is the most well-known composer of military marches other than Sousa. In this selection, the melody of America can be heard throughout the trio section.
The concert will conclude with the Texas premier of The Greatest Generation. Scored by Robert W. Smith for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this stirring piece was premiered in Honolulu under the direction of Mr. Smith. Leaning on the patriotic melodies and accompanying narration, it salutes those who served in World War II and have been referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”
Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, VFW 2195 and the Allen Community Band, the concert is free. The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr. Call 214-509-4911 for more information.