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2 Tri-Citians were killed at Pearl Harbor

Two Tri-Citians were killed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and they are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl overlooking Honolulu.

Tommy Hembree, a Kennewick native, and Harold Comstock of Pasco died in the surprise Japanese attack that launched the United States into World War II.

Hembree, the youngest of five Kennewick siblings, arrived in Hawaii only days before the attack that claimed the lives of 2,341 servicemen.

He was one of two sailors in the radio room of the Curtiss when it took a direct hit. Both were severely burned.

His remains were buried at Punchbowl in a grave marked "Unknown, December 7, 1941" until his identity was confirmed in 2001 through testing at the Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii.

He was buried with full military honors and a marked grave in 2002.

Although Comstock was shipped to Pearl Harbor aboard the Pennsylvania, he was aboard the Arizona when 100 Japanese planes laid siege to the U.S. Pacific fleet's base at Pearl Harbor.

The Pennsylvania was in Drydock 1 undergoing repairs when the attack came. It took direct bomb hits and was damaged, but the Arizona was destroyed.

Frank Comstock learned Jan. 14, 1942, that his son's body had been buried in Hawaii, according to the Pasco Herald. "Well known and well loved, Harold was in this town, particularly in the school," the newspaper reported on its front page.

Word of Comstock's death stunned the community, the Pasco Herald reported in its Dec. 18, 1941, edition, running a front page story headlined: "Harold Comstock Killed at Pearl Harbor."

Comstock Avenue in Richland is named in his honor and in 2002, he was remembered at the school's inaugural Ring of Honor ceremony to honor graduates who died defending their country.

He was captain of the Bulldogs' football team in 1940.

He was offered a scholarship at Gonzaga University and started at fullback on its freshmen team. But with war looming, he enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 12, 1941.

Harold, 20, graduated from training in San Diego as a radioman first class.

Over the years, the Tri-City Herald interviewed several Tri-Citians who survived the Pearl Harbor attacks. They were members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Tri-Cities Chapter No. 8.

As we observe the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, remember these Tri-City association veterans who have since died:

-- JOHN WINDLE DERN, Pasco, U.S. Navy, USS Solace anchored near the USS Nevada in Aiea Bay on the eastern side of Ford Island. Died in June 1992.

-- ROBERT CLARK, Prosser, U.S. Navy, USS Tennessee, moored on Battleship Row at Ford Island on the starboard side of the USS West Virginia. Died Oct. 25, 2008.

-- RAY G. HOSACK, Richland, U.S. Marines, USS New Orleans in drydock across the bay from Battleship Row at Ford Island. Died Dec. 25, 2000.

-- WARREN H. KOHLER, Richland, U.S. Army, Schofield Barracks with 25th Infantry Division. Died July 16, 1994.

-- GAROLD C. LaBORDE, Richland, U.S. Navy, Naval Hospital at Hospital Point. Died Jan. 15, 2009.

-- ROY R. MCCORKLE, Kennewick. U.S. Navy, Ford Island. Died Jan. 22, 2002.

-- JOHN C. McGOVERN, Kennewick. U.S. Navy, USS Castor moored at Sub Base in South East Loch across the bay from Ford Island near headquarters of commander-in-chief, Pacific Fleet. Died Feb. 25, 1994.

-- RALPH S. PHILLIPS, Kennewick, U.S. Navy, USS Rigel in drydock across the bay from Battleship Row at Ford Island. Died March 4, 2006.

-- PAUL W. STEWART, Kennewick, U.S. Navy, USS Maryland, moored on the starboard side of the USS Oklahoma on Battleship Row at Ford Island. Died Sept. 3, 1992.

-- TOMMY TOMLINSON, Kennewick, U.S. Army Air Force, B-17 crewman flying into Hickam Field from the mainland at the same time as the Japanese attack. Died March 4, 2006.

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