It was one of the most traumatic days in American history. The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 launched the United States into World War II.
Edmund Russell, 95, said it's important for him to share what happened on this day, 71 years ago.
"I was scared and people who say they were not scared, they do a lot of lying," he said.
Russell was only 24 years old in the United States Army Air Forces, assigned to the kitchen. That fateful morning he was at the mess hall preparing for the next day's meal when the Japanese planes began their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the sky began filling with black smoke.
"When the first bombs went off I thought it was one of ours. But when the second bomb went off, I went, 'we didn't have two planes crash.' I opened up the window and looked out and a third bomb went off and my feet said, 'move,'" he said.
Russell was one of four local Pearl Harbor veterans honored at Friday's ceremony at the Sylvester Powell Community Center.
Quinn Appletoft, 17, is one of the organizers.
"When I was 5 years old my dad first brought me to the Pearl Harbor Survivors Ceremony. I was kind of shy at first, but the guys were real nice and open in talking to me and friendly," Appletoft said.
The teen said he's learned so much from the brave men and he wanted to make sure other young students could listen to them.
"When I learned that they were thinking of maybe stopping it because it was too hard to organize, I decided that me and my dad - we could step in to help out and organize it for them to simplify it so they just have to show up," Appletoft said.
Now, instead of just reading about Pearl Harbor in their history books, the middle school students who attended Friday's ceremony could hear firsthand the lessons learned from the historic event.
"Pearl Harbor happened, 9/11 happened, so we have to be prepared. We can't cover all bases, but we can try," Russell said.
Also during Friday's program was a moment of silence for the men and women killed at Pearl Harbor. Later the audience was able to ask questions of the veterans.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:29:04 GMT
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