Widow of two Pearl Harbor survivors recalls their stories

Halfway resident's first and second husbands were stationed at Army bases in Hawaii during the attack

December 06, 2012|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Crena Anderson is shown with some mementos from her late husband, Amos Anderson, who was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Crena Anderson wasn’t at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

But the 88-year-old Halfway resident will be linked to that day for the rest of her life.

She said her first and second husbands were stationed at Army bases in Hawaii during the attack, although the two young soldiers didn’t know each other at the time.

“I’m proud of what they did — very proud,” Crena said at her home earlier this week. “They must have been scared to death.”

Crena said she married her first husband, Marvin Spencer, shortly after they met while he was home on leave in 1944.

“One day he got on the bus and spoke to me,” she said.

After the war, the couple regularly attended Pearl Harbor Survivors Association reunions, she said. It was during these gatherings that Crena and Marvin got to know Amos Anderson.


She said she and Amos started dating after Marvin died of a heart attack in 1993.

The two married a year later.

“I vowed I would wait a year before I remarried,” Crena said.

She said Amos was scheduled to be discharged from the Army shortly before Pearl Harbor, but he re-enlisted when he was offered a post in tropical Hawaii. Amos also served at Iwo Jima later in the war.

Marvin was serving at Fort Weaver on the island of Oahu when the attack occurred, Crena said. He often reflected about seeing smoke “rolling up” from Pearl Harbor as Japanese planes bombed the American fleet.

The event propelled the United States into World War II.

Crena said Marvin told her that he took cover lying face-up on the ground because he wanted to see history unfold.

“He said they were flying so low that the Japanese pilot was smiling at him,” Crena said.

Crena graduated from Waynesboro (Pa.) High School in 1942 and got a job near Penn Mar caring for another family’s children. But when the family moved to Scotland, she said she started to work at the Fairchild plant in Hagerstown.

“I was a real-life Rosie the Riveter,” she said.

Crena said she riveted airplane wings to support the war effort.

She recalled a newspaper story from the time that said the female employees worked so hard that they seemed to age twice as fast.

“They didn’t have earplugs then,” she said. “It was so loud that if a foreman wanted your attention, he’d pull on your pants leg.”

Crena said Amos had a heart attack in 2004 and seemed to be getting better when he suffered a major stroke.

Amos died on Oct. 9, 2004, at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Towson, Md.

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