Pride of Baltimore II back from a nine-month tour Homecoming coincides with Pearl Harbor event

December 08, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Cannons were fired from one well-known ship and a wreath was dropped from another yesterday in an afternoon of homecoming and remembrance at Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Returning from a nine-month tour of Europe and the Caribbean in full, regal sail, the Pride of Baltimore II fired a fusillade of shots from the 4-pound cannons mounted on its sides.

The shots, which echoed across the harbor, coincided with the dropping of a red, white and blue wreath by three survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the stern of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney.

The events went off with military precision at 12: 55 p.m., the precise local time of the Pearl Harbor attack 55 years ago.

A half hour later, the 12-member crew of the Pride II disembarked to the music of a fife and drum corps and an outdoor welcoming

TC ceremony under the shelter of an overhang of the World Trade Center attended by a handful of dignitaries, family of crew

members and a small group of onlookers.

"The rain has not dampened our spirits. We are home," said Jan Miles, captain of the state-owned Pride II, a replica of a 19th-century Baltimore Clipper topsail schooner that travels the world promoting the state's economy and tourism.

Pride II was to have returned home Nov. 29, but its arrival was delayed while it waited out Tropical Storm Marco while it was docked in the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

One of the crew members, Mike Smith, said he was heartened by the people who gathered along the harbor to watch the ship come in, as well as by the ceremony.

Earlier, the mood was somber in a separate ceremony to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day aboard the Taney, one of three historic ships docked permanently at the harbor as part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum and the last surviving vessel of the infamous Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

George V. Martin was one of three survivors to recall the terror of that attack before a small group that gathered under a V-shaped awning over the deck of the Taney.

Martin, 77, of Westminster was asleep in his barracks when the first planes attacked. "I grabbed a shirt and shoes and ran out of the building," he recalled.

Another survivor, Carl M. Pickett, was an ammunition handler on the USS Ralph Talbot, a destroyer that got out of port safely.

Three days later, when the ship returned, Pickett, 76, of Cape St. Clair saw many of the 101 vessels at Pearl Harbor damaged and others blocked in by those that couldn't move.

"It was a sad sight to see," he said.

Pub Date: 12/08/96

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