Everyone is invited…Please join the Lytle Memorial VFW Post 12041 on July 19th at 4:00 PM at 1425 FM 2790, Lytle TX 78052 (the new location of the VFW Post). Help us celebrate and honor Mr. Gilbert Myer, of Lytle, on his 100th birthday and watch the famous Wonder World Parachute team powered by the All Veterans Group jump in his honor.
Mr. Myer is a Pearl Harbor Survivor who served on the USS Utah when it was hit and sunk. He stayed at sea the remainder of the war on the USS Detroit until the signing of the peace treaty. Mr. Myer is a Lifetime Member of the Lytle VFW 12041.
The All Veteran Parachute Team will be jumping from a helicopter as a way to honor Mr. Meyer as one of the last few survivors of Pearl Harbor. They will jump around 5:00 p.m.
Sunnydale Hyde, Director of Operations for the All Veteran Group shares a little about the jump.
“We travel all over the world doing over 100 shows a year. We have helped raise $7 million dollars annually to help veterand their families,” Hyde said.
There will be 2-3 jumpers who will jump from about 1 mile up. The jump itself will last about 5-7 minutes and the crowd will see “cold smoke grenades” deploy as the parachuters come down.
The Wonderworld Parachute team is powered by the All Veterans Group.
To put things into perspective, this is the same team that jumped for President Bush, the Green Bay Packers and many others.
In addition, the City of Lytle will be presenting a Proclamation to Mr. Gilbert Myer proclaiming July 19th as “Mr. Gilbert Myer Day” in Lytle. With the generosity of HEB, there will be hamburgers, hot dogs and chips served.
You are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.
A new home for Lytle VFW post
(Reprinted from March 2023)
By Anton Riecher
Many a war story is destined to be told inside Texas’ newest Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12041 once it is completed east of Lytle. But none will be as harrowing as that told by the man for whom the post is named – Pearl Harbor survivor Gilbert Meyer.
On March 22 members of Post 12041 and many others from Lytle gathered at Meyer’s farm on FM2790 for the groundbreaking ceremony. Of the five-acre farm, Meyer donated four acres as the new home for the local VFW.
“We would not be standing here today if it were not for the generosity of one local hero – Mr. Gilbert Meyer, who is in the house directly behind you, is a 99-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor,” said post commander Chris Clouser. “Unfortunately, due to health reasons, Mr. Meyers is not able to attend the ceremony.”
Arrangements had been made for Meyer to view the groundbreaking by video from his sickbed.
Next month Texas Senior Vice Commander Larry Sanders takes charge of the Texas VFW as state commander. But before those high ranking jobs Sanders was commander of Post 12041. As commander he had the pleasure of counting Meyers among the local members.
“One day I was at the park getting ready for our fourth or fifth festival,” Sanders said. “I met this gentleman walking across the sidewalk over there. He had USS Utah on his cap. He was very proud of it. He said ‘Come over and sit down young man.’ We sat down and talked for about an hour about what he did. He was at Pearl Harbor.”
Fortunately, Meyer committed his story to video as an oral history during a USS Utah reunion in Las Vegas in 2015. Born in 1923, he dropped out of high school in Goose Creek, TX, now Baytown, when he was 17. With his parents’ consent he joined the Navy.
The USS Utah is often referred to as the forgotten ship sunk at Pearl Harbor. Commissioned as a battleship during World War I, the Utah had long since been converted into radio-controlled vessel used for aerial target practice.
Meyer arrived in Pearl Harbor aboard the Utah in September 1941. Recently refitted, the Utah only made two voyages from Pearl before that fateful day on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese pilots slammed two torpedoes into her side.
“I was sleeping on the starboard side,” Meyer said. “I woke up when the first torpedo hit but I was so sleepy I went back to sleep for just a few seconds. Then, shortly after that, the second one hit. When it hit all the lights went out.”
With the ship already listing, Meyer had to find his way topside in the dark wearing only his skivvies, i.e., his undershirt and underpants. He also grabbed a pair of shoes he had just bought.
“I had shined them for about three days,” he said. “And I had my shoes and lost them somewhere along the way. I probably needed two hands to try and climb and get myself topside.”
Debris made it impossible to lower himself into the water off the port side of the ship. The only thing to do was to follow the ship around as within 12 minutes it capsized.
Then the Japanese pilots started strafing the survivors with machine gun fire, Meyer said.
“The projectiles hit the bottom of the ship and made such a racket I knew I had to get the hell out of there,” he said. “So I started sliding down. I looked up behind me and there was this big old chief electrician who looked like he weighed 300 pounds crashing down. I had to swim like hell to get out of the way.”
Meyer swam to nearby Ford Island and took cover in an open trench. Between bombings he and others would sneak between the buildings to see what was happening on Battleship Row.
“We just watched the world war from there,” Meyer said.
Fifty-eight of Meyer’s comrades did not survive to tell their tale. An incident later brought the magnitude of the disaster into focus. Meyer had caught some shrapnel in a finger and went looking for medical help.
“The nurse ran me off,” Meyer said. “She said guys with their arms missing and all blackened from being burned and you were worried about one finger. Later I thought about it and she was right. I shouldn’t have been there for just a little bleeding finger.”
Meyer’s next ship proved to be far luckier. For three years and nine months he served aboard the USS Detroit. At Pearl the Japanese torpedoes missed the Detroit and she never took a hit during the war after that. And, the Detroit was sitting in Tokyo Bay when, aboard the USS Missouri, General Douglas MacArthur signed the peace treaty ending World War II.
“That was the best 18 seconds of my life,” Meyer said.
During the groundbreaking, Clouser said the mission of the VFW is to “foster comradery among United States veterans of overseas conflicts and to serve our veterans in our communities and to advocate for all veterans.”
Now that Lytle has its first ever VFW home the post will be able to “advance the ability to serve our veterans and our military in our community,” he said.
“The members of the Lytle VFW are excited for the future and look forward to the ability to serve veterans by giving them a safe place to come for assistance,” Clouser said.
The youngest servicemen in the 1941 attacks, who were 17 years old, would be turning 99 this year. It is unknown how many survivors are still here to share their stories with younger generations.