Remembering Wyoming’s Pearl Harbor Heroes
December 7 marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor bringing the United States into World War 2. The attack claimed the lives of 2,403 Americans and three brave men from Wyoming. On this dark day, we are reminded of their service and sacrifice.
Among the fallen were United States Navy officers Machinist Mate Second Class Elmer Emil Christensen, Seaman First Class Delbert Ray Fisher, and Fireman Second Class James Orries Morgareidge. All three Wyoming natives were on the USS Arizona when it was attacked by Japanese bombers.
Following the attack, over ten percent of Wyoming's population, nearly 30,000 men, volunteered for World War II. 1,095 of them didn't make it back home.
All of those men demonstrated courage and valor, including two Wyoming natives who were later honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty".
Cheyenne's Vernon J. Baker, United States Army First Lieutenant, was among the first African-American soldiers to receive the honor. Baker was given the citation for his extraordinary heroism on April 5 - 6, 1945, when he unarmed a German machine gun emplacement near Viareggio, Italy, and led his battalion's advance through enemy minefields under heavy fire.
Another Cheyenne native, United States Army Technical Sergeant Charles F. Carey, Jr. was honored for his courage on January 8-9, 1945, when he entered a house in Rimling, France, disabled two snipers, and took 16 prisoners. The next day, Carey was shot down after successfully rescuing four of his fellow soldiers from another house that had been surrounded by German infantry.