SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s been 80 years since Japan led a surprise attack on the United States, killing more than 2,000 troops on Pearl Harbor.
Because of that attack December 7th is known across the country as Pearl Harbor Day, but here at Benedictine Military School, it goes by a different title.
“At the young age of 22, George Gannam was killed in action on December 7th, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During the attack, Gannam tried to save airplanes from the Japanese bombs. He was the only one to die from his squadron, and was the first World War II casualty from Savannah, Georgia,” said LTC (R) Stephen Suhr, Senior Army Instructor for Army JROTC at Benedictine Military School.
Savannah’s own George K. Gannam lost his life that day, becoming Savannah’s first victim of World War II.
Gannam, who graduated from Benedictine in the class of 1938, was one of 30 cadet alumni that paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War II for the freedoms we have today.
“I look back upon their names posted here and I knew 90% of them. They were friends of mine, went to school with me, and I pray for them every night,” said Herbie Griffin, a classmate of Gannam’s at Benedictine.
Every year since his passing, the school that shaped him honors and remembers his life and legacy with a special Gannam Day ceremony.
“As a result of these brave Benedictine classmates taking an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states…we are all able to wake up this morning in the United States of America, and not the United States of Japan or Germany,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Grabowski, Assistant Adjutant General of the Georgia Air National Guard.
For the current cadets in attendance today, like Gabe Tvrdy, what’s not lost on them is the true definition of sacrifice, and what it really means to wear that uniform.
“I think that it really emphasises the fact that even though it was so long ago, it’s still a big part of who we are…and I believe that having this ceremony even 80 years after it happened, still, it helps us become aware of the sacrifices that these men have given to ensure our freedom,” said Gabe Tvrdy, Cadet Colonel.
Gannam was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the American Defense Service Medal.