Survivor of Pearl Harbor attack and Peoria resident recalls - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Survivor of Pearl Harbor attack and Peoria resident recalls chaos

Our nation changed forever when Pearl Harbor was attacked. A Peoria man lived through it and recalls the chaos like it was yesterday. 

Nelson Mitchell, 93, said he was incredibly scared when his ship was shaking and bombs were falling from the sky. He also said he's grateful to have survived and continue to defend his country. 

"I didn't have on nothing but my shorts and I went to the top to see what was happening," Mitchell said.

He was on the U.S.S. Jarvis, docked in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when he said he felt the ship shake and saw the bay on fire. 

"Smoke was going up and bombs were still falling," Mitchell said.

Originally from Texas, he was just a 21-year-old steward at the time. He said he made sure his officers were alright before taking cover until the bombings stopped. 

"I'm glad I'm still alive and was able to get out," Mitchell said.

He is believed to be the only living African American survivor of the Pearl Harbor attacks and he lives right here in the Valley. 

"It's very important for us to hear it from the people who lived it," said Vicki Hunt, the president of the Peoria Historical Society. She has gotten to know Mitchell through the years and said we can still learn something from the conflict.  

"Even though it was a long time ago, we're still involved," Hunt said.

Mitchell stayed in the Navy for several years after the attacks on Pearl Harbor and started a family. He said the service taught him discipline and humility. 

"Life is good as long as you do the things which are right and be honest," Mitchell said.

He turns 94 years old next month. 

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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