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Andrea Domaskin, Published December 07 2007

G.F. woman remembers attack: ‘This is no drill’

Agnes Shurr was asleep aboard the USS Solace when the Japanese attacked on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. The Navy nurse was supposed to be off duty.

“I heard the announcement over the loudspeaker saying, ‘Man your duty stations. This is no drill. All hands. This is no drill,’ ” Shurr said.

She peered through a porthole and saw officers running up and down the deck.

“Officers never, ever run up and down the deck,” Shurr said.

She looked out another porthole and saw ships leaning to one side. One had tipped all the way over. Black smoke rolled out of the ships.

The wounded began arriving soon afterward. “We got busy right away,” Shurr said.

They stayed busy for several days. Then a ship arrived from the mainland to take all but the most severely wounded patients back to the mainland United States.

Shurr was born in Bottineau County in northern North Dakota. She was the second of five children. “We were told that we had to learn to be independent and take care of ourselves,” she said.

Shurr wanted to see the world, so she joined the Navy. She served 20 years, including time overseas during World War II.

She moved to Grand Forks after her military duty ended and later spent two years in Kabul, Afghanistan, with the World Health Organization.

Now 91 and retired, Shurr still lives in Grand Forks.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556 G.F. woman remembers attack: ‘This is no drill’ Andrea Domaskin 20071207