Army Navy Game – Tradition at its Finest

Saturday, December 13, is the Army Navy Game, the best of college rivalries. All the others are great…USC-UCLA, Michigan-Michigan State…the list goes on…but none compare or mean as much as Army Navy. A win-less season is a success with a win over Army (or Navy). I am fortunate to have been able to March On the field prior to 4 ARMY Navy games (68, 69, 70, 71). This intense rivalry is on the minds of the Mids and Cadets, constantly. So much that it is a plebe requirement to always know (and be able to recite) the 4 most important dates at the Academy…the days until the next Leave (vacation), the number of days until Second Class (Juniors) Ring Dance, the days until First Class Graduation, and the number of days until we “Beat the hell out of Army.”

And while the rivalry on the field is as intense as it gets, we all were taught and realized that we were “comrades in arms” and that although we are on different sides during the game, when it is over, we are all on the same team, Team USA.

When I was a Mid, at the conclusion of the game, it was the duty of plebes to go onto the filed and face the Army side while the cadets sang their Alma Mater. The Army plebes would then face our side as we sang Navy Blue and Gold. Plebes then sought out a plebe from the “other Academy” and exchanged a cuff link. That cuff link was to be worn on the left cuff, and our USNA cuff link to be worn on the right cuff (visible when saluting). This made you technically “out of uniform,”‘ but no one was ever called on it, as it was expected.

I still have both cuff links (I know, “what is a cuff link?”).

Go Navy, Beat Army! But if you lose, we still win as a nation. To the Brigade of Midshipman, and the Corp of Cadets, thank you for your dedication, commitment, sacrifice and service.

Good luck tomorrow.


Leilani’s Obituary – San Diego Uniton Tribune

Mom in her 40-50

Obituary of Leilani J. Klein
Sunday, September 8, 2013

October 1, and the unintended consequences – Prelude to Pearl Harbor

10-1 8--19370235Marcus Klein - Boot Camp

October First was always a remembered day when I was growing  up. On October 1, 1940, Marcus G. Klein (my dad), enlisted in the US Navy, the “old  navy.” As a young boy I would listen with great interest, inspiration and  imagination as Pop would tell stories of his navy in the early days. There was  no UCMJ (Uniform Code  of Military Justice). The disciplinary system then was “Rocks  and Shoals.” Sailors would spend their entire career in the “Asiatic Fleet” or  in a gun mount on a battleship or cruiser, never being transferred anywhere  else. He often said of the Asiatic Fleet Sailors, called “China Sailors,” that once they were a China Sailor, they often never came back but lived out  their lives in the Orient.

Pop enlisted in the Navy to fight the Nazis. Hitler was  killing Jews. Pop’s family was a second generation German Jewish immigrant  family, and he felt it was his duty to join the efforts against Hitler and  Germany. At the time, he was 23 years old and working at Anis Furs in Detroit  Michigan. Upon his graduation from Boot  Camp at Great Lakes, he was not sent to Europe to fight the Nazis, but to  the USS Medusa, which  he described as a Battleship Tender stationed in the Hawaiian Islands…Pearl  Harbor to be exact. His rating was Blacksmith Apprentice at the time.

He met my Mom in Hilo when Medusa was visiting in early  1941, they married in Honolulu by a Justice of the Peace in June that same year,  survived the attack on  Pearl Harbor and two submarine war patrols in the South Pacific…and  in 1949, while still stationed in Pearl, had me. The naval influence in my life  was immediate…I was born in Aiea Naval Hospital in Pearl City…grew  up as a “Navy  Junior,” and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in  1972, followed by 5 years on active duty as a Surface Warfare  Officer. These are some of the unintended consequences of Marcus G. Klein enlisting  to go to fight in Europe on October 1, 1940.

Pop never made it to Europe, and I for one am glad that he  didn’t.

2013 – Saul’s Annual Pearl Harbor Story

Each year I review and edit this story of my family’s memories of December 7th, 1941, as they were told to me. This is my way of keeping Pearl Harbor Day alive in my memory, and hopefully in yours as well. My mother and father were both, always proud to say that they survived that day, and the aftermath. We lost Pop in 2005, and Mom passed this last August ( December 7th, 1941 was a defining moment in their young lives.

My Mom and Pop were members of the “Greatest Generation,” and I was fortunate to be raised in the constant company of many who understood that the price of freedom is commitment and personal sacrifice. I believe that this has provided me great benefits in life. Part of their enduring legacy and gift to us is the preservation of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Today, it seems to me, that many aspects of these freedoms are taken for granted by many, not understood by many, not valued by many.

Passing time, for me, brings a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices of those who came before us. They conveyed their virtues and values by words…acts and deeds.

When I think of December 7, 1941, one word comes to mind,

Imagine, if you can, the sheer terror of those who lived it, and through it, and how they must have felt, as they witnessed the waves of Japanese planes attacking our Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and our Air Forces at nearby Hickam Field at 7:00 AM that Sunday morning.

It was a quiet Sunday morning, and then…SURPRISE. As I learned from mom and pop, and later from my studies of Naval History at the Naval Academy, surprise was the first successful objective of the Japanese Fleet that morning. The US was fortunate, or it was Divine Providence” that our carriers were at sea that morning. They were spared the destruction. Aircraft carriers then became instrumental to our success in the Pacific, and the entire war effort.

For those who experienced the attack, it was hard to imagine what was going on at first. Pop thought it was a drill…there was an initial lack of comprehension, followed by confusion, disbelief, and then, it was all about Duty. The task at hand: run into the fire, and not away from it. That is exactly what our servicemen and women did that morning.

Imagine the terror, not knowing if the attack would continue to the general population around our key military installations on the Island, and not just the military resources, personnel and assets.

Imagine the terror, not knowing if the attack was a prelude to a full scale Japanese invasion of the Hawaiian Islands. The Japanese Army had a very bad reputation and the stories of how they treated prisoners of war in China were horrific. Describing it as rape, pillage and plunder would have been a dramatic understatement. Add torture, dismemberment, and desecration of the human body, and you have a better idea.

Imagine the terror, and apprehension, of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines as Duty called then to abandon family and loved ones.

There was no time for preparation or long, or even short good-byes. Service members had to do whatever it took to get back to their duty station immediately, be it their ship, or one of our numerous military installations on the Island…Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Bellows Field, Fort Shafter.

Duty called. It had to be an agonizing decision, not knowing what would happen to those they loved. Leaving their family and friends behind to fend for themselves.

Imagine the terror, as friends and relatives on the Mainland US who had loved ones stationed in the Islands, heard the news of the attack. It was unthinkable. Their first thought was probably about the survival of their loved one, and on its heels to the country as a whole.

Imagine the continuing terror of not knowing who survived the attack and who didn’t.

I am the custodian of a treasured family memento, a copy of the telegram my grandparents in Detroit sent to my dad and mom on December 8, 1941. It is faded and frayed, but still readable…”Are you OK.” In 1941, there was little long distance telephone capability, no e-mail, no text messaging or Facebook…no instant communication to ease the anxiety of families and friends who had loved ones in the Hawaiian Islands that day.

While it is difficult, if not impossible to imagine the terror, I feel I know as well as anyone who was not there, the terror and apprehension of that day. I was raised in the company of fairly young adults who experienced the attack first hand.. Both my mom and dad, and my mother’s mom and dad…my aunts and uncles, and their friends and families were there, and the attack on Pearl Harbor was not only a seminal event in their lives, but in mine as well. I heard their stories many times as a young boy, living in a post WWII Honolulu, right outside of the Main Gate of Pearl Harbor.

For my father’s firsthand account of December 7, 1941, as he told the story to Jerry Bruckheimer (Producer of the movie Pearl Harbor) go to and click on “Pearl Story.”

Pop passed away on January 15, 2005. We lost Mom this year. Their story is an amazing one, like so many stories from that infamous day. Mom and Dad met in Hilo, Hawaii in January of 1941. My dad was a sailor, a Jewish kid, 23 years old, from Detroit. My mom was a 17 year old local girl (Hawaiian, Portuguese, English, and a little Chinese for good measure some say). They were married on June 28th, 1941 in Honolulu, by a Justice of the Peace. On Sunday Morning, December 7, 1941, they lived in Navy Housing Area 3 (NHA 3) on Ninth Street, a few blocks outside of the Main Gate of Pearl Harbor. My Mother’s parents lived in a little shack on “P Road” in an area known as Damon Tract, which is now close to where the Honolulu International Airport is located.

Mom and Dad’s survival story of December 7 and the rest of the War is an amazing series of events. They were married for over 64 years, bound together by many things, including their experience from 1941 to 1945, their separations, and all that they endured together, and apart.

On December 7, 1941, young Sailors (E-4 and below) were not allowed overnight Liberty, unless they were married (Bluejacket’s Manual defines LIBERTY as permission to be absent from a ship or station for a period up to 48 hours). For this reason, Pop was not aboard ship on that Sunday morning but at home with Mom. Had he been single, he would have been aboard his ship, the USS Medusa, a repair ship (Dad always described it as a Battleship Tender) and he would have been killed as his battle station was the crow’s nest, which was completely destroyed in the attack by friendly fire (again, according to Pop). The joke in our family over the years was how by being married, my Mom saved my Dad’s life.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was an awakening for the American People. As a nation, we did not want to be involved in the storm that was becoming a World War. But when our Fleet was destroyed, as President Roosevelt said, a sleeping giant was awakened and the United States of America recovered to defeat not one, but two formidable enemies, especially the Japanese.
The Japanese were committed to victory, honor, and to the emperor. As a young boy (I am 63 as I write this), I remember how eerie and unbelievable it was when I learned of pilots who were willing to sacrifice their lives and fly their planes into our ships, killing our sailors and themselves in the process. They were the suicide bombers, the Kamikazes. The Kamikaze pilots would leave their bases with their fuel tanks half full (probably half empty in this case). They had enough fuel to reach their target, and no fuel to return.

As unbelievable as that idea seemed to me as a boy, the concept seems mild today when we look at the present day suicide bombers. And the Japanese avoided killing innocents, which is the objective of today’s suicide bombers.

Growing up in Post War Pearl Harbor and Honolulu

My dad remained in the Navy and in the Islands after the War. I was born in 1949 at Aeia Naval Hospital. In 1952 pop was transferred to the USS Nereus in San Diego, where we lived until 1956.

In 1956, my Dad was a Chief Warrant Officer (W-2) and he was transferred to the Commander of the Submarine Force Pacific (SubPac) staff as Special Services Officer. My sisters and I spent a lot of time on the “Sub Base Pearl”, as living in Hawaii in those days was still sort of like living on a military outpost. Hawaii had not yet obtained statehood and was a US Territory (you had to get “shots” when you traveled there from the “Mainland”). When we moved back to the Islands, we lived in Navy Housing, Area 1, which at the time served as Junior Officer’s Quarters. The Duplex and Fourplex structures were made of cinder blocks. NHA 2 and NHA 3 were Enlisted Quarters and were of frame construction, shared with the termites. NHA 1, 2, and 3 were right outside of the Main Gate of Pearl Harbor.

As the Special Services Officer for the Submarine Force, Pop was in charge of the Officers and Enlisted Clubs, swimming pools, hobby shops, movies, athletic facilities, recreational cabins at Barbers Point, and other recreational facilities. It cost a dime for a haircut, and a dime to attend the movie on the Sub Base. It is at the old sub base movie theater there that I saw the premier of Run Silent, Run Deep starring Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable. I still have the pens they gave away as mementos of the movie.

In the 1950s our living room furniture in our Navy Housing Quarters consisted of a rattan couch, two rattan chairs, two rattan end tables, a small round rattan coffee table with lahala mats covering the hardwood floors. After school and during the summer I would go out to play and stay out for hours, attired in shorts, no shirt and barefoot or at the most, “go-aheads”. Back then, you could buy a small bag of dried squid for a nickel…ling hi mui was also a favorite. Li Chi, mangos, papayas, guavas, star fruit, liliquoi (passion fruit) and coconuts were pretty easy to find growing in different places around the Island.

In 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades (1956-1958) we lived on Third Street and then Center Drive in NHA 1 and I attended Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School. Our classrooms were war surplus Quonset huts and we had concrete bomb shelters in our back yards throughout Navy Housing…constant reminders of Sunday, December 7, 1941. To put this in a time context…in the 1950s, WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor were still recent history and in the memory of most adults. My parents were young adults during the War, and it was a defining event, if not THE defining event of their lives and generation. It was spoken of often over my life in a number of different social circles.

In the summer of 1959 we moved from Center Drive in Navy Housing to Foster Village on Salt Lake Blvd, where my parents purchased a home for $20,000. Single wall construction, built on a slab, no garage, no heating system, and on a 99 year ground lease.
Moving required that I change elementary schools. I attended Aliamanu Elementary School in 5th and 6th grades in 1959/60. Aliamanu was right across the street from Salt Lake Crater, which was, back then, a large lake (at least it seemed large to me back then). Today it is the Honolulu Country Club and Golf Course.
As a student at Aliamanu, I was the Captain of the JPOs (Junior Police Officers) and my JPO Advisor, who later in his life was a State Senator, was Jumbo Joe Kuroda. At the end of our street in Foster Village was a sugar cane field…acres and acres of sugar cane. The end of the street was not a “cul de sac” but a dead end with a barricade and a ditch. The ditch was easily jumped and was on the edge of the cane fields…where I was forbidden to go but went anyway, exploring and spending hours of my youth.

A Family Tradition

Happy Pearl Harbor Day – Every year since I left home when I was 19 years old in 1968 to attend the United States Naval Academy, I called my Dad on December 7th to wish him “Happy Pearl Harbor Day,” no matter where I happened to be in the world. One year I was deployed in the Western Pacific and in the Philippines at the preverbal “tip of the sword.” We talked about Pearl Harbor and where he and mom were that day, and what they were doing. I loved to hear my dad retell the story, year after year. I know it made him feel good to tell it.

My dad’s dream for me was that I attend the Naval Academy and become a commissioned officer in the US Navy, and it was all I ever know or thought I wanted to be. I was fortunate, and on June 28, 1968, I entered the Naval Academy with the Class of 1972. Last month I found some old 8mm home movies (not Super 8) of the Class of 1972 Parents Weekend, which I had digitized. If you are interested, the clip features some of the beautiful sites of the “Yard,” the Midshipman’s term for the Academy…and lots of marching ( ). Also Included in this clip is a scene with mom, dad, and VAM and Martha Grenfell.

After my dad, VADM Grenfell was one of my first heroes. Not because of his great accomplishments as a submarine skipper in the Pacific during WWII, which were many, but because he was an Admiral. This was something I aspired to be, not knowing what an Admiral actually did, but knowing that the route to get there, at least back then, usually began at the Naval Academy…and a few feet of film with mom, dad, and me at 19 years of age. There are also a number of cameo appearances of my classmates and roommates (one who went on to become a Four Star Admiral…who knew?).

My mom was almost 89 when I visited her last December 7 at the nursing home and we did “talk story” about December 7, 1941 and about Pop, and about how I would call him and wish him a “Happy Pearl Harbor Day” every year. As usual, she brought up “the day I was born story.”Happy Pearl Harbor Day, you might ask? According to pop, you bet. Happy to have survived. And happy to live in the United States of America.

What does Pearl Harbor mean to you?

Over the years, different members of our many online communities have shared their memories and Pearl Harbor stories, and we would love to hear yours, if you are so inclined. If not, I understand, but please wish everyone you see today a “Happy Pearl Harbor Day.”

Once again, for a survivor’s perspective of what happened on December 7, 1941 (Dictated in 1991 on the 50th Anniversary of the Attack by my Dad to my wife Janie)…go to: and click on “Pearl Story.”

Also, go to for past renditions of this story.

Happy Pearl Harbor Day to everyone.




Radiogram sent December 8, 1941 from my grandparents in Detroit to Mom and Dad in Pearl Harbor. It was something a keepsake for Pop. It reads in part: “Are you both safe Wire us collect”

Radiogram - December 8, 1941

Radiogram – December 8, 1941

Our Sweet Leilani

Leilani…devoted wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and great grandmother, quit school at age 12 to take a job as a waitress to help support the family and the 7 brothers and sisters still living at home with grandma and grandpa. It was 1936, it was the Great Depression, and it was Hilo, Hawaii.

In 1937, the song Sweet Leilani, written by Harry Owens for his newborn daughter, won the Academy Award for Best Song. It also became a favorite of young Marcus Klein, who, at the time, worked at Annis Furs in Detroit. On October 1, 1940, Marcus enlisted in the Navy to fight the Germans in Europe. His plan was foiled by the Navy. Upon his graduation from Boot Camp and various schools at the Training Center in Chicago, he received orders to report to the USS Medusa (AR-1), based in Pearl Harbor, as a Blacksmith Striker.

In the early part of 1941, the USS Medusa (AR-1) left Pearl Harbor for a short trip to Hilo. It was on that trip, and the first Liberty Call, that Marcus, a twenty three year old Jewish sailor boy from Detroit, met and fell hopelessly and hopefully in love with sweet, seventeen year old Leilani Julia Maka.

Leilani’s parents lived in Honolulu. As fate might have it…when the Medusa headed back to Pearl, Leilani also headed to Honolulu to live with her parents, who, at the time, lived in Damon Tract, close to what is now the Honolulu International Airport.

Mom was a bit indifferent to Pop, she liked him, what was not to like? Pop pursued and with the permission of Grandpa Maka…on June 28, 1941, unbeknownst to Pop’s parents in Detroit, he and Leilani were married by a Justice of the Peace in Honolulu…just a few months after their first meeting in Hilo.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the newlyweds were living in Navy Housing, a few blocks from the main gate of Pearl Harbor. At first Marcus thought it was a drill, but a look out the window told him otherwise. He joined the other sailors running to Pearl Harbor to man their battle stations.

Marcus’s battle station, the forward crow’s nest, was the only part of Medusa that was destroyed by the attack. By virtue of the fact that Mom and Pop were married, Pop’s life was saved, and we were told often growing up how Mom saved Dad’s life. Had Marcus been single on December 7, he would have been berthed onboard Medusa, and not in Navy Housing. He would have manned his battle station, which was destroyed by friendly fire after the attack began. Marcus and Leilani did not see one another for four days.

After the initial shock of Pearl Harbor Day, and the return to what was then, for the next 4 years, the new “normal,” World War II, Marcus volunteered for the Submarine Force. He traveled with his young bride (who had never left Hawaii) to New London, Connecticut and Sub School. At the completion of Sub School, Pop joined the Commissioning Crew of Balao (SS 285) as a Plank Owner. Upon Commissioning, Balao headed to Brisbane Australia and the War in the Pacific and Mom, off to Detroit to spend some time with Dad’s parents, Granny and Dee Dee.

Their Generation, the Greatest Generation, went on to fight and win World War II.

Marcus and Leilani were married for 63 years before Marcus’s passing in 2005. Marcus retired after 30 years of Naval Service in 1970, and went to work immediately at J.C. Penney for another 10 years.

Together, Mom and Pop spent 20 wonderful years in retirement. They were one hundred percent involved in the RV life and getting together with their friends from the Hui.  Retirement meant new friends and new adventures. They also enjoyed the time they spent in Palm Springs.

During their marriage and Pop’s naval career, there were tours of duty in San Diego and Pearl Harbor a number of times, and a single, three year tour in Norfolk, Virginia (1961 – 1964). There were deployments and long separations, and there was, on a few of Pop’s tours of duty, the Basketball Team.  The last team Pop coached won the All Navy basketball Championship in 1964.

Together, Mom and Pop sang and danced their way through a wonderful life. Dad played the ukulele and sang and our beautiful mother danced a graceful hula. Mom also taught hula to many young navy wives over the years.

Mom was the epitome of a Navy Wife. As a Navy Family, we were a family always in transition, and Mom was the rock. She provided the consistency and strength that allowed our family, together and as individuals, to adapt to ever changing physical and social environments at critical points in our lives…and often she guided with a passive hand (and sometimes not 🙂

Our mother was always there for each of us, in our own way, when we needed her. And she was always there for Pop, as he for her. She was truly, the Sweet Leilani he dreamed of as a young man in Detroit, waiting to meet his destiny, when he heard for the first time back in 1937…

Sweet Leilani, Heavenly Flower, I dreamed a paradise for two.

You are my paradise completed. You are my dream come true.

Mom was certainly all of that, and so much more.
Leilani is survived by her 4 children, 10 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and many more “Calabash” relatives.

No one could crochet like Mom. She could crochet an afghan and 6 sets of booties in an afternoon!

Services will be held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on September 16, 2013 at 2:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:
Hui o Hawaii of San Diego
P.O. Box 1668
Spring Valley, CA 91979
In Memory of Leilani and Marcus Klein