Seventy-five (75) years ago today, I was seventeen (17) years old, when Imperial Japanese fighter planes, bombers and torpedo planes were launched from six (6) aircraft carriers and wiped out a huge part of the United States Navy in the Hawaiian Territory at Pearl Harbor.
At that time, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma. Eight (8) of our battleships were damaged and four (4) were sunk. They also hit us in the Philippines, Guam and Wake Island. Two thousand four hundred three (2,403) Americans were killed and hundreds were wounded. It was devastating.
I know this may be hard to imagine now that people watch TV on their phones, but there was no TV in 1941. We learned the graphic details that day from the emergency broadcast over the radio and war was declared the next day.
I quit school and went home to tell my parents I was going to enlist. Unfortunately I was underage and my parents refused to authorize my enlistment. I refused to go back to school and went to work for the Douglas Aircraft Company in Tulsa for sixty-five (65) cents an hour. I was made a foreman in a few months because I was one of the very few employees who could read blueprints.
I enlisted in the Army when I could and they sent me behind the Normandy lines serving as a medical assistant. When I came back I enrolled in law school and started classes in 1946.
I will never forget that day.