Four National History Day in Indiana students – Warsaw seventh graders Keller Bailey, Jason Benyousky, Geoffrey Hochstetler and Ryun Hoffert – visited Pearl Harbor to meet and honor men who survived the burning and sinking of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.
The students researched their History Day project for a year – the story of Don Stratton, Lauren Bruner, Ray Emory and a boatswain’s mate, second class named Joe George, now deceased. They learned that Stratton and Bruner are alive today because Joe George saw them trapped on the foremast of the burning and sinking USS Arizona. George threw them a line from his ship, the Vestal, against the orders of a superior officer who wanted to get the Vestal away from the Arizona. Stratton, Bruner and four others were roped to safety thanks to George’s defiant act.
The 10-minute performance they developed portraying the four men was named Outstanding State Entry in the Junior Division at the National Contest for National History Day in 2017, and they were able to present it to their subjects in Hawaii.
Over two days, they visited Emory in his home, attended the 76th anniversary commemoration ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, and performed the project for all three survivors and their closest relatives.
“Coming to Pearl Harbor has been humbling for me because we’ve been able to see people who were here 76 years ago on one of the most important days in our history. Being here helps bring that day to life and make it real,” said Benyousky.
Photo: National History Day in Indiana students with Pearl Harbor survivor Ray Emory in Emory’s Honolulu home. From left, Keller Bailey, Geoffrey Hochstetler, Ray Emory, Jason Benyousky and Ryun Hoffert. Courtesy of Richard Rooker.
National History Day in Indiana is presented by Indiana National Guard and the Richard W. and Irene Rooker Family Foundation, TCU Foundation, Vigran Family Foundation and Junior League of Indianapolis