WWII veterans tell stories of how Pearl Harbor and fighting in the war changed their lives
76 years ago hundreds of Japanese air planes attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor. The attack drew the United States into World War II.
The attack changed this country. It changed the world. It changed the lives of the 16,000,000 U.S. citizens who went to fight in the war.
Carl Labbe joined the Navy in 1945. He told me the attack on Pearl Harbor made him angry. It was the reason he wanted to go fight in the war.
"The main thing about the war was, compared to now, everybody wanted to serve," Mr. Labbe said "I wanted to serve."
We visited eleven World War II veterans at Hickory Valley Retirement Community in Chattanooga.
These men all have very different stories of serving during World War II, but there are still so many similarities.
Carl Arnold is from Winchester. He'll be 101 next month.
"It was a time when you didn't have to decide whether I ought to be doing this or I ought to be in school or what kind of work I ought to be doing," Mr. Arnold said. "I was where I was supposed to be."
All of these men were somewhere in Europe or the Pacific or in the U.S. training to go fight.
Howard Van Zant was in the second wave of soldiers to hit Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normandy.
"It was frightening you didn't know what was coming up next," Mr. Van Zant said. "You wondered if you were going to survive it."
Mr. Van Zant was assistant company clerk. He took mail and messages to the front lines.
His daughter Gail took her father back to France in 2003 to see Normandy one more time.
She told us what they saw when they arrived in the harbor near Omaha Beach.
"There were children playing and several of them were playing a game with international flags from different countries," Gail Rich said. "He looked at the beach and he said 'look at that children playing on our beach. This makes it all worth while."
According to the World War II museum there are 558,000 US World War II veterans still living. We lose 362 every day.