‘It Was a Mess': Mass. Veteran Recalls Pearl Harbor Attack

Seventy-six years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a Massachusetts veteran who survived it is recalling the offensive.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." It's a day U.S. Army veteran George Hursey will never forget.

"It was a mess," he said.

Navy ships and airfields were destroyed. More than 2,400 were killed when the Japanese launched more than 350 planes during the attack.

It was a weekend bombing no soldier was expecting.

"Saturday at noon, we closed up shop. We had the weekends off," Hursey said. "We got the guns ready to roll just in case we had to, it was only theoretically."

When he and fellow soldiers heard their Lieutenant screaming, "they're fighting, it's the Japanese," they knew it was real.

Hursey is now 97, but that day, he was a young soldier stationed at Ft. Shafter in Honolulu with his younger brother, James.

On the morning of the attack he helped load artillery and rushed through Hickam Field, to his combat position.

"About that time, vroom," Hursey said. "A plane came flying down crashing right into a truck."

What he and all other men knew as paradise quickly turned into a war zone.

"Hickam Field was fire, there were bodies," he said.

Hursey recalls a good memory from that day. In fact, he said it was his favorite.

Nearly 12 hours after the attack, as he and other soldiers hid in fox holes, a truck came driving across the field. Sitting in top was Hursey's beloved brother.

"It was mess, our kitchen, and my brother sitting right on top of it. That's something I can always remember," he said.

After fighting in the South Pacific in World War II, he returned home, where he met his wife, Mary. They wed about two years after the war and settled down to have a family in Brockton.

While reflecting on that fateful day, Hursey said he'd fight for his country all over again.

"Nobody loved the country like I did," he said.

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