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Meet Dorothy Lyons, Pearl Harbor Veteran

Resident at Sunrise Senior Living in Lynnfield treated wounded men during attack of Dec. 7, 1941.

Americans everywhere marked the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack this week - and at least one Lynnfield resident is among the dwindling few who were actually there that day.

Dorothy (Munn) Lyons, a resident at in Lynnfield, was a nurse stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese struck in a surprise attack that brought the U.S. into World War II.

Lyons had already served in several locations for the Navy by the time of the attack, including in Brooklyn, Quantico, and in California. Dorothy went to the Carney nursing school in South Boston and lived in Medford for many years. Her husband, John Murray Lyons, was also a Navy man from Medford - the two met during their high school years.

In fact, during the war Lyons wanted to go and serve on a hospital ship in the Pacific instead of at Pearl Harbor, but it was not meant to be. "You go where they send you, no ifs, ands or buts," she told Lynnfield Patch.

Dorothy was not in a position to see the actual planes and explosions that morning. Instead, Lyons recalled that "we knew something was going on" when "they gave us those helmets." A short time later, Lyons was treating men who had been wounded in the first U.S. engagement of World War II.

Lyons recalls that in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, the mood was not actually one of anger, but more of shock. "You were relieved you had gotten through - I think you were more in shock. You just never thought it was going to happen," she told Lynnfield Patch.

Dorothy also noted that in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, personnel had good reason to fear that a full Japanese invasion was imminent. There were also frequent blackouts that furthered the atmosphere of unease. In fact, when asked what she recalls most from this time, she replied that it was this sense of unease that continues to stand out the most.

Lyons would go on to spend the rest of the war stationed at Pearl Harbor and caring for wounded personnel from across the Pacific Theater. She began her naval career with the rank of ensign and finished as a lieutenant.

After the war, Lyons worked for many years as a nurse in area hospitals, including St. Elizabeth's and Carney.

"You never knew what was going to happen," said Dorothy, "From day to day, thanking the good Lord you're still there... All's well that ends well."

Nikki December 08, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Love the story about Lt. Lyons! Thank you.
William Laforme (Editor) December 08, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Thanks Nikki. My grandfather was at Midway and other spots in the Pacific at that time too. It was a privilege as an American and as a history lover to meet and speak with Dorothy.
Tasney Mazzarino December 08, 2011 at 01:58 PM
Great Story Bill, that must have been so fun talking with her!
Gerry MacDonald December 08, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Fantastic job Bill, I remember Pearl Harbor and you did her story well. Keep it up.
Dorothy December 09, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Glad to hear this story. We need to keep these memories alive for future generations. A big thank you to Dorothy for her bravery and sharing it with us.
Aubry Bracco December 09, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Wonderful story, Bill. Living history -- what a treasure. Thank you Dorothy for your service and wisdom -- you look great!
Bob December 08, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Dorothy, you are a True American Hero. Thank You!

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