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Those remembered and those forgot

Seventy years ago, a group of Americans stationed on a tiny island in the Pacific came under attack from Japanese fighter planes and bombers.

Herbert L. Zincke was one of those to survive the initial assault. When the air raid was over, he combed through the wreckage searching for the dismembered bodies of his fellow airmen.

It was Dec. 8, 1941.

At the time, Mr. Zincke was serving in the Army Air Forces at Clark Field in the Philippines.

That first Japanese attack on U.S. troops based across the South Pacific island chain is a much forgotten drama of World War II history.

Only hours before Clark Field was attacked, Mr. Zincke and his colleagues had learned of the assault on Pearl Harbor on the radio.

Most Americans in the United States at the time received news of the strike in Hawaii the same way.

What was different about the two attacks was what happened afterward. In Hawaii, the Japanese planes flew back to their ships and sailed away. In the Philippines, the Japanese army invaded the islands and took Americans prisoner.

Mr. Zincke spent 40 months as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was beaten, forced to perform hard labor and nearly starved to death.

After the war ended, Mr. Zincke worked in Washington and lived for many years in Silver Spring. He died on Dec. 11, 2010.

I wrote his obituary as one of our “Local Life” features that appeared in the Washington Post last March.

Today’s 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is a great way for many Americans to honor the sacrifices made on that day and all days since. Those remembered and those forgot.

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