RSS Feeds

Survivors recall attack on Pearl Harbor

Sunday - 12/8/2013, 8:51am  ET

Pearl Harbor survivors Elizabeth McIntosh, Honolulu; Douglas Gibson, Trappe,Va. and Jay Groff, Springfield Va. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
  • Gallery: (2 images)

WASHINGTON -- Pearl Harbor survivors and other World War Two veterans gathered at the World War Two Memorial Saturday.

They snapped to attention and saluted as a Navy bell tolled, marking the moment when Japanese forces attacked the Hawaiian military outpost 72 years ago.

"I was there in the big barracks on Hickam Field," says 91-year-old Jay Groff of Springfield, Va.

Groff remembers scurrying from the barracks and manning a 50 caliber machine gun.

"A Zero came into range and we opened fire on him," he says, remembering when he was 19 years old and firing against a Japanese fighter plane.

Elizabeth McIntosh, 98 years old of Honolulu, was a reporter for the Star Bulletin who remembers a lazy Sunday morning when her life would change forever.

"It was a bright sunny day. The radio came on ... and said the islands are under attack," she says.

The newspaper reporter would go on to a distinguished World War Two career in the OSS, predecessor of the CIA.

There's much about that day that 90-year-old Douglas Gibson of Trappe, Va. wishes to forget.

"That memory seems to fade away after you've lived a long number of years afterwards. All you can remember is you were there and there are not many people want to talk about it," he says.

But Gibson says he'll never forget the lesson from the attack on Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,400 Americans.

"We need to stay awake, because the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked Japanese were called friendly Japan, we had just underestimated our enemy," Gibson says.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

© 2013 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.