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Pearl Harbor remembered at Crestview dance

Paul and Kimberly Deichelbor pay Swing into the Season organizer Dako Morfey $100 upon winning an auction for a pair of World War II helmets. The event, held Nov. 27 in Crestview, was a fundraiser for Crestview’s April 22-24 World War II reenactment weekend.

CRESTVIEW — Patrons at Crestview’s “Swing into the Season” Christmas dance Nov. 27 swing-danced to the big band sounds of Hashtag Swing, savored gourmet cuisine, discussed World War II history with reenactors, examined historical displays, and did one other thing.

They raised more than $1,600 toward the city’s April 22-24 “Hail Our Heroes” World War II reenactment weekend.

“Here’s to a successful event!” event adviser and co-organizer Dako Morfey, dressed as a WWII American captain chaplain, said at the evening’s end as he raised his glass in a toast. “Thank you to all our donors, sponsors and hard workers.”

“Swing into the Season” co-organizer Dako Morfey and his girlfriend, Dottie Dellamorte, dance to big band music with other World War II reenactors and guests Nov. 27 in Crestview.

While the evening was lots of fun and feasting, it also had a serious side. Attendees and organizers reflected on the Dec. 7, 1941, “unprovoked and dastardly attack” — as President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it — by Japan on the U.S. Navy port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Historical displays beneath the flags of America’s military branches in Warriors Hall related how and why the attack was planned and executed, and also detailed America’s response just four months later on April 18, 1942.

The Hashtag Swing big band provided a foot-tapping repertoire of swing music, including big band arrangements of holiday standards, during the Swing into the Season dance Nov. 27 in Crestview.

After intensive training at Eglin Field, Lt. Col. James Doolittle led a bombing strike, launched from the American aircraft carrier USS Hornet, against Tokyo and several other targets. While causing little physical damage, the raid shook the Japanese population’s faith in its military’s ability to defend the home islands and belied their leaders’ claims that their attack on Pearl Harbor had “crippled” America’s military might.

Back at home, the Doolittle Raid boosted America’s morale, showed what a unified national response would look like, and paved the way for the ultimate American victory in the Pacific war three years later.

History buff Rollin Cluff, left, chats with Crestview Mayor JB Whitten as other Swing into the Season dance attendees check out history displays Nov. 27 in Crestview.

The Doolittle Raid’s 80th anniversary in April 2022 provides the impetus for Crestview’s planned weekend of equipment displays, reenactments, encampments, and other activities.

Among the several World War II reenactors at the “Swing into the Season” dance was Shobu Hasegawa, who was uniformed as a soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army. The University of West Florida student displayed Japanese WWII weaponry and equipment and, like his GI- and U.S. Navy sailor-uniformed friends, sparked conversations and war history discussions with attendees.

World War II reenactors Zach Panici and Danny Clark discuss history with a patron during Crestview’s “Swing into the Season” big band dance Nov. 27 in Crestview.

Though the dance’s focus was on America’s World War II heroism and honored those lost on Dec. 7, 1941 — “a date which will live in infamy,” as President Roosevelt called it — it was also a fundraiser for the WWII weekend, which will draw reenactment groups from around the country. An auction of genuine World War II American and British helmets and sales of $25 “war bonds” raised $625 alone.

It was also the first event under the city’s new Cultural Services Division.

World War II reenactors Zach Panici and Shobu Hasegawa, uniformed as American and Japanese soldiers respectively, show little Allied-vs.-Axis animosity during Crestview’s “Swing into the Season” big band dance and Pearl Harbor attack 80th anniversary remembrance Nov. 27 in Crestview.

“While it was a lot of hard work, we also had a lot of fun,” Morfey said as he supervised a trio of reenactors manning vacuum cleaners at the end of the evening’s clean-up. “We’re looking forward to staging more events after the holidays.”

WANT TO HELP?

Donations toward assisting volunteer reenactment groups with equipment transportation expenses for the April 22-24, 2022, “Hail Our Heroes” weekend in Crestview are welcome. The overall goal is establishing at least a $5,000 fund. For donation information, contact Cultural Services Specialist Brian Hughes at City Hall, 850-398-5459, or hughesb@cityofcrestview.org.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Pearl Harbor remembered at Crestview dance