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Local veteran helps preserve Pearl Harbor histories

Hilary Farrell

On December 7, 74 years ago, thousands died in the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Bill Campbell has been working for more than a quarter-century to keep local stories alive.

"When I started it, quite honestly I wasn’t aware that there were so many Pearl Harbor survivors in west Michigan," he says. "And as we started to do this, we learned more and more of the Pearl Harbor survivors (here)."

Campbell, a retired Army captain and Vietnam War veteran, helped begin 26 years ago what’s now an annual tradition: an observance of Pearl Harbor, its victims and survivors, and its impact locally.

He says attendance grew as he connected with more than 50 Pearl Harbor survivors, their families, and others in the community.

Until recently, as more and more veterans passed. Then, their family members as well.

When Campbell speaks of the annual observance, he now uses terms like "remember to remember".

"Because Pearl Harbor – the phrase 'Pearl Harbor' – at one point, all you had to do was say, 'Pearl Harbor' and people understood the significance and the value of that," he says. "We can’t afford to lose the main activity of something like a Pearl Harbor."

Campbell says that means recognizing the service of our veterans, but also the history of our families, state and nation.

"The whole country came together to really be able to support the armed forces. And the armed forces were respected," he says. "[T]hat’s what we need to get back to. And that’s one of the real main reasons why I continue to do this, really." 

There are three names in particular the group honors annually, who lost their lives that day: Naval Seamen Second Class Daniel Paul Platschorre and Raymond D. Boynton, and Chief Petty Officer James Stouten.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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