Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Waves

The events of the past 24 hours leave me with mixed feelings of awe, sorrow, humility and respect for the fierce power of nature. I'm sure this is true for all who have been following the news out of Japan as it unfolds. For those of us here on the Coast the possibility of earthquakes and tsunamis is ever present.
The events of the past 24 hours also bring to mind one of my earliest memorys, the Great Alaska Earthquake magnitude 8.6 and subsequent Pacific wide tidal wave in 1964!
It was March 27th 1964 a few days before my 4th birthday at the time we lived on a small island in Sitka Sound near Sitka Alaska, I recall my Father and Mother bundling up my younger Brother and myself and heading to the highest part of the island to wait out the aproching tidal wave. The Island was only 32 feet at it's highest point. My Father and his older brother who had rushed over by boat to warn us went back down closer to the beach to watch the coming waves.

My younger brother and myself in Alaska 1964.

As circumstances would have it the tide was low at the time the tidal wave struck the Sitka area and the waves did not come above the hight of the highest tides though much damage was done to docks and boats just the same. We were all very fortunate.

Interesting how these things weave themselves into our lives and burn themselves into our memories...


  1. We all experience at least once in our life about life and death. However, we are the among lucky one to tell about it. As my self I have experience once escaping from Vietnam to Thailand in a small 35ft. boat with 65 people on it. Seven days, and six nights on the ocean. I remember, I was 14, and my brother is 17. We have shared one orange, and drank about 8 ounce of water diluted with diesel fuel for entire trip. On top of that we have to face the Thailand pirates for 5 days, and our boat nearly sinking due to banging against the pirate boats. Some of the people on our boat got beaten by them, and nearly die. Fortunately, none of women or children on our boat got rape or kidnapped by these pirates. During 1975 to 1985 only 60% to 70% Vietnamese refugees survived on their destination. My Mom knew the risk, but she willing for us to take the risk by escaping or got drafted, and die in the war against Cambodia.

  2. I have to say that as much as I can feel for the people of Japan, I am definitely humbled by Q's story of survival.

    You never realize how much you really have until you hear something like that.

    Hey Paul, I'm amazed that even in black and white you don't look as white as your legs do now! Are you getting lighter as you get older? LOL

  3. The Alaskan Earthquake also brings back memories to me. I was a young man of 18 stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls,Texas. I was a Medic assigned hospital duty. We got news of the Quake and damage to Elmendorf AFB and immediately began to make plans for recieving patients that would ease the burden on the hospital there. Thanks for a very well wrote account of a piece of history!
    Nice pic of a couple of Happy Go Lucky Budds. As far as the legs comment 'I ain't Got No Dog in that Hunt'. LOL

    Quynh Le,
    Thanks for relating your personal story of survival. What an abundance of courage your Mother had! You said it well 'we are among lucky one to tell about it'.
    When reading your story the book title "Profiles of Courage" came to my mind!

  4. Q thank you for sharing this pivotal moment in your life, my story is pale by compare.

    Your Mother is a woman much to be admired for her courage and foresight! You and your Brother are indeed most fortunate for her decesion!


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