The concept of an organization for the offspring of Pearl Harbor survivors was first presented by members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) at their national convention held in Clearwater, Florida on December 6, 1965. At that time, the idea was voted down primarily because there was disagreement among PHSA members present regarding whether the proposed organization should be a sons-only organization or one in which all offspring would be eligible for membership. A second proposal was introduced during the PHSA national convention held in New York City, New York on December 6, 1970. The second proposal was approved extending membership to all offspring.
Subsequently, PHSA member Harold “Sarge” Cook – PHSA Florida State Chairman – organized the first local chapter of 44 sons and daughters in Florida. Efforts were then initiated to develop the necessary paperwork to request an official charter from the PHSA. Action again was requested at the business meeting of the PHSA national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6, 1972. Sarge Cook requested the first SDPHS charter be approved for the Sunshine State Florida Chapter 1 of Seminole, Florida.
On December 11, 1972, PHSA National President Merle Stouffer appointed Sarge Cook to be Coordinator for SDPHS and to continue efforts to form a national organization as well as promote additional local chapters. On May 5, 1973 at the PHSA National Executive Board meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, it was recommended that any organization of sons and daughters be formed with its own identity, rather than as a subsidiary of the PHSA organization. Sarge Cook enlisted the support of individual survivors, spouses and their offspring to make the SDPHS an independent organization.
By the fall of 1973, groundwork was completed for forming an organization of offspring of Pearl Harbor Survivors. On October 20, 1973, PHSA National President Merle Stouffer officially installed the first national officers of the SDPHS. The ceremony was held at the Captain’s Table Gulf Wind Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida in conjunction with the local PHSA Florida Chapter 1 dinner meeting. The first national officers installed were President Cheryl L. Martin of Largo, Florida (daughter of Survivor Harold “Sarge” Cook, Schofield Barracks 27th Infantry), Vice President Romaine E. Maddox of Pinellas Park, Florida (daughter of Survivor Hank Shane, USS Raleigh), and Secretary-Treasurer Sheila Mielbrecht of Orlando, Florida (daughter of Survivor Hiram Mosley, 35th Infantry). Carl L. Garbo of St. Petersburg, Florida (son of Survivor Nunzio Garbo, USS Tangiers) succeeded Vice-President Maddox after her move out of the Tampa Bay area.
In February 1974, the SDPHS, Inc. was legally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, with its initial national office headquartered in Seminole, Florida. Over the years, the headquarters for the national office of the organization has come to reside with the office of the incumbent National President. Sarge Cook will forever be known as the “Founding Father of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.”
Throughout the years, members of SDPHS have been invited to attend the PHSA national conventions. At the Pearl Harbor Survivors 50th anniversary convention held in Honolulu the week of December 4, 1991 there were approximately 370 offspring of the survivors present. The 50th anniversary also marked the first time that sons and daughters marched in the traditional commemorative parade down Kalakaua Avenue. Symbolically marching after the Pearl Harbor survivors, the group’s presence was cheered by military personnel, civilians, dignitaries, and veterans throughout the course of the parade route.
In 2011, members of the PHSA voted to disband their organization due to advanced age and declining health. In 2012, the SDPHS held their first national convention in San Diego, California honoring the Pearl Harbor survivors on the 71st Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. A memorial service was held the morning of December 7 aboard the USS Midway. At the evening banquet, Mal Middlesworth, past 2010 PHSA Vice President, served as guest speaker along with CDR Michael J. Harris the commanding officer of the USS Pearl Harbor.
The 2014 SDPHS national convention, the 73rd anniversary of the attack, was held in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, across the bridge from Charleston. The December 7th wreath laying ceremony was held aboard the USS Yorktown with the Mount Pleasant VFW. The banquet keynote speaker was Thomas Kimmel, grandson of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Pearl Harbor Survivor Jay Carraway, USS Hulbert.
The 2016 SDPHS national convention, the 75th anniversary, was held at Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. A memorial service was held the morning of December 7 on Kilo Pier overlooking Pearl Harbor. In lieu of a guest speaker at the banquet, SDPHS members Carol Gladys and Robert Brooks recognized all living Pearl Harbor survivors as well as child survivors and invited them to tell their stories.
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The Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors (SDPHS), Inc. is an organization of descendants of military personnel who were stationed at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on the island of Oahu, territory of Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.