George Kondas had a front row seat at a flag-raising ceremony at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa at a gathering meant to honor him.
TAMPA - George Kondas had a front row seat at a flag-raising ceremony at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa at a gathering meant to honor him.
"Mr. Kondas remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor like it was yesterday," former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Vincent Jackson said as he introduced Kondas to the crowd.
Kondas was 21 years old at the time of the attack.
"He was a young sailor looking for a young girl in every port," he joked about his younger self.
He had the day off from his post manning a machine gun when the first wave of the attack swept over him.
"I looked up and I could see the pilot and his scarf flowing behind him, with that big red ball behind him, and he was smiling," Kondas said.
Kondas described the complete chaos that followed.
"The Japanese threw 392 aircrafts at us in two separate waves."
He survived the nightmare, only to meet the love of his life, Violet, 12 days later on his first day into town after the attack.
"I said, would you like to go to a movie?" They've now been married 75 years.
Kondas survived Pearl Harbor, World War II and two bouts of cancer.
"I lost my right lung in 1981 and I had 45 radiation treatments for prostate cancer in 1985," he told the crowd gathered for the flag-raising ceremony.
One of Kondas' four children, Kathy Zoumberos, said her father's positive attitude helped him beat it all.
"I love him, of course. He's a remarkable person. He's 96 years young and still has a vibrance about him," she said.
Kondas said the flag-raising ceremony brought back a flood of memories for him, and that he doesn't take any of it for granted.
"I'm thankful that I survived," he said.