Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let's remember Pearl Harbor

One of my favorite songs has always been a WWII song called "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition:"

Down went the gunner, a bullet was his fate Down went the gunner, then the gunners mate Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look And manned the gun himself as he laid aside The Book, shouting Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free! Praise the Lord and swing into position! Can't afford to sit around and wishin' Praise the Lord we're all between perdition and the deep blue sea! Yes the sky pilot said it You've got to give him credit for a son - of - gun - of - a - gunner was he, Shouting; Praise the Lord we're on a mighty mission! All aboard, we're not a - goin' fishin; Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free!
It turns out there's a story behind it, connected to great bravery at Pearl Harbor:
According to the writer, Jack S. McDowall, through the years the lyrics of the song have generally credited "a chaplain" manning the gun turrets of a ship, while under attack. "This was not true". says, McDowell. For some time, long after the attack at Pearl Harbor, stories and reports continued to pop-up about the incident, involving a chaplain who was to have uttered the now famous words, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." These stories eventualy made their way through the servicemen back to the press. The press, as McDowell noted, . . . led some writers erroneously to identify other chaplains as authors of the phrase. Nonetheless, the real Chaplain, Howell Forgy, aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans; during the Japanese attack, was that Chaplain. He was a Lieutenant (j.g.) on that Sunday morning in December, 1941. Another Lieutenant who had been in charge of an ammunition line on the USS New Orleans during the attack remembered.
"I heard a voice behind me saying, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me along the line of men. He was patting the men on the back and making that remark to cheer them and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too", he said.
Another Lieutenant j.g. said, the men aboard the USS New Orleans would thereafter kid Chaplain Forgy about the role he played whenever they heard the song that had been written. They also encouraged him to set the record straight as to who actually said what. According to that same Lieutenant the Chaplain would decline saying he felt "the episode should remain a legend rather than be associated with any particular person." Author McDowell said that press reporters were eventually permitted to interview men of the U.S.S. New Orleans involved in the "ammunition" story. Chaplain Forgy's superior officers set up a meeting with some of the press and; at last, the the real story of the wonderful song and the wonderful man who had inspired it was finally confirmed.