Day to remember: Lufkin veteran recalls Pearl Harbor Day

Day to remember: Lufkin veteran recalls Pearl Harbor Day
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In an early morning raid in 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,400 Americans.

As each year passes, the pool of veterans becomes smaller and smaller each year.

"When I woke up this morning, I told the wife it's Pearl Harbor Day. I should wear my uniform, but I didn't, of course," said Jerry French, a veteran

French, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, was stationed San Antonio 76 years ago. While on furlough, he was making his way to Colorado to visit family when he learned about the bombing.

"The radio was on and said Pearl Harbor was being bombed. So I said 'Hello, goodbye' and turned around and left," French said. "I headed back to my home station."

In the days that followed, Americans were worried about more attacks, he said.

"Took a lot of precautions if you lived out on the West Coast," French said. "Had a lot of blackouts at nights, you know."

It is history, the veteran said more and more young people need to remember, especially as the number of WWII veterans are dying quickly.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs, close to 558,000 of the 16 million veterans are still alive.

"I think the young people, the younger generation, is not getting properly educated on history. They need more history of this country to appreciate it more." French said.

Two students said they have studied about Pearl Harbor in their world and US history classes.

"I think we should learn more because it shows where we've come from and how we originated and that's what makes us who we are today," said Armani Walker, a senior student.

They added that they have veterans in the family who also share stories.

"Basically, if I put myself in their family's position, you know they lost their loved ones, out of nowhere, nobody was expecting anything was going to happen and just imagining that happening today, it would be devastating," said Taylor Mays, another senior student.

Although the veteran is 93 years young, he takes time to remember those who fought in the war.

"Of course I'm very sorry for the servicemen and civilians we lost that day," French said.

The veteran said he travels to high schools, Lions Club, and other events sharing his war stories.

Copyright 2017 KTRE. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 KTRE. All rights reserved.