Local World War II veterans reflect on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Posted at 6:16 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 19:31:14-05

Many across the nation gather to remember the lives lost at Pearl Harbor-- 75 years ago today.

This morning a  gun salute from the ceremonies in Hawaii commemorated the anniversary. A military aircraft  fly-by, the playing of taps and a tugboat water tribute - all part of the day's events.
"A date which will live in infamy," according to President Franklin Roosevelt: December 7th, 1941.  The United States was drawn into World War II by the Japanese attack.
Many World War II veterans were barely 18 when they enlisted to fight in the war. They were just young teens when Pearl Harbor happened. Decades have passed but they say the memories of that day and their time serving, last a lifetime. 
Bill Bennett was only 17 when he enlisted in the Navy to escape a tough childhood. Now, at 92, he says the memories of war are still fresh in his mind. 
"It's the stuff you carry back with you. When I hear a sudden noise, I look for a place to hide. Force of habit after all these years," said Bill Bennett, World War II veteran.
Bennett served as a signalman on several ships throughout the war. He lived through countless air raids.
"I started having combat dreams and all my hair fell out," said Bennett.  
The doctor's diagnosis - "He said it was a nervous shock that cause my hair to fall out."
Bennett visited Pearl Harbor with his unit during the war. The men who lost their lives made a lasting impression.
"I thought it was horrible - those guys that were on those ships," said Bennett. "They never survived and I still think about it."
The numbers of those who survived the fighting throughout World War II are dwindling.
A Nebraska man who survived the bombing on the USS Arizona is in  Hawaii for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. George Don Stratton is one of the five surviving service members who were on board the day the USS Arizona was bombed, killing more than 1,100 men in an instant. 
"We sacrificed 1177 men on that ship and I was one of the lucky ones to get off," said Don Stratton.
75 years later - the courageous stories of these veterans show that some lessons go beyond a history book. 
"War is a terrible, terrible thing," said Bennett.