Military News

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

AFTAC honors Pearl Harbor survivors, Pacific vets

by Susan A. Romano
AFTAC Public Affairs

12/8/2015 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Despite 74 years having passed, their memories are vivid and their emotions deep.

Two Pearl Harbor survivors were the distinguished guests of honor at the 20th Annual Pearl Harbor and Pacific Theater Veterans Ceremony Dec. 7, hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center here. In addition to the survivors, nearly 100 other Pacific Theater veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were in attendance to be recognized for their crucial role during those conflicts.

George Herold, 91, and Clarence "Bud" Lane, 90, were both seamen 1st class when the Japanese bombed the Hawaiian island seven decades ago. Lane was stationed at Pearl Harbor as a member of a PBY (patrol boat) beaching crew. He was scheduled to muster at 8 a.m. that fateful Sunday morning, but he never made it there. The hangar where muster was to take place had been obliterated by Japanese kamikaze pilots.

"It was gut-wrenching to see," said Lane. "I had just come off liberty that weekend and was ready to report to duty when the attacks happened. Everywhere you looked was chaos." Through tears, he continued, "This day - this ceremony - is not about me. It's about those who laid down their lives in 1941. My mates on the Arizona, on the Utah, and those just sleeping in the barracks - they're the ones this day is all about. They're the ones who paid the ultimate price. We can never forget them."

Herold, an Art Carney doppelgänger with an accompanying New York accent, was not permanently stationed in Hawaii at the time of the assault. "I went through boot, came in the summer of 1941 and went to submarine school in San Diego right after that," he recalled. "The Navy sent me to Pearl Harbor for more schooling in October of '41. I was at the sub base, not far from the harbor, when the Japs flew over us. They weren't interested in the subs at the time - they had they eyes on those big battleships."

He continued, "It doesn't feel like it happened yesterday, and I don't remember all their names, but I definitely remember all their faces - all the faces of the fellas I was there with, seeing our beautiful ships being destroyed from above. Broke my heart."

Crackling over outdoor speakers, audience members listened to the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he delivered his historic address to Congress, calling Dec. 7th, "...a date which will live in infamy." Immediately following Roosevelt's speech were recordings of President Harry S. Truman discussing the U.S.'s entry in the Korean War, and President Lyndon B. Johnson's remarks about Vietnam.

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