World War II veterans return for 72nd anniversary of attack

| December 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Caleb Kittrell, Co. C, 2-25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, 25th ID, discusses pilot controls with Pearl Harbor survivor Peyton Smith, a former quartermaster assigned to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and a member of The Greatest Generation Foundation.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Caleb Kittrell, Co. C, 2-25th Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, 25th ID, discusses pilot controls with Pearl Harbor survivor Peyton Smith, a former quartermaster assigned to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and a member of The Greatest Generation Foundation.

Story and photo by
Staff Sgt. Matthew Ryan
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The world is changing every day, and as time continues on, there are less of those who helped shape the nation into what it is today.

During a recent tour, here, and on Schofield Barracks, World War II veterans, Pearl Harbor survivors and guests saw some of the remains of that devastating attack by the Japanese.

Some hangars still have bullet holes from strafing planes and blast holes where bombs hit the ground.

These veterans of our past are often referred to as the “Greatest Generation.” These are the men and women who grew up during the era of the Great Depression and either fought in World War II or helped on the home front.

With an average age of more than 90 years, the list of heroes making the trip shrinks every year, and The Greatest Generation Foundation (TGGF) makes sure that those who are able to make the long journeys visit the historical sites.

The TGGF is a nonprofit international organization that is dedicated to ensuring the veterans of the past receive recognition and respect for the deeds long ago.

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where the Japanese conducted a surprise attack on the U.S. at 7:55 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, with more than 350 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves.

“I can remember that day still; we were playing the (Army Air Corps) in a game of football, like we did every Sunday. Then, all of a sudden, these planes came out of nowhere,” said Thomas Petso, then an infantryman assigned as an intelligence platoon sergeant with the 24th Infantry Division.

“I remember running back to my barracks to grab my rifle, still in my shorts from playing football, and running to report to help. I was only 19 years old, a scared kid at that time,” Petso explained.

Petso said that things have changed since that day. The airfield was filled with planes then, instead of the rotary wing aircraft of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th ID.

“I remember seeing the planes being destroyed and buildings being attacked,” he said.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Caleb Kittrell, UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 25th Avn. Regiment, 25th CAB, said, “They were really impressed with how advanced the aircraft is today.”

Some of the veterans climbed into the cockpit of the helicopter and were amazed at all the controls, and to learn that with a just a push of a button it could practically land itself.

Later the veterans visited a middle school to share their personal experiences. The students had studied Pearl Harbor recently and had many questions for them.

After visiting the school, the World War II survivors had lunch at the 2nd Stryker Bde. Combat Team’s chow hall, the Warrior Inn, with Soldiers from Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT.

The next visit to Oahu by TGGF is scheduled in 2016 for the 75th anniversary of the attack.

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Category: News, Observances

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