Survivors of Pearl Harbor attack remember what happened on the 72nd anniversary of the attack

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. - Today marks the 72nd anniversary of a day President Franklin D. Roosevelt said would "live in infamy." On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Early that Sunday morning Werner Klemm was getting ready to leave the U.S.S. Dobbin, A U.S. Navy Destroyer Tender anchored in Pearl Harbor. "I was waiting at the gangway to go ashore," Klemm said.


Klemm was only 18-years-old and serving as a Boilermaker Striker on the ship. "At five minutes to 8, the first call to colors, I hear these airplanes came over the mountain," he said.


At first Klemm thought nothing of it. "They fluttered like cards from a deck," he said.


He thought it was just the Air Force doing another drill, something they did several times a week.


"They come over Fort Island, we were right next to Fort Island. They hanger went up and I thought it was a target and I thought geez that's realistic today," Klemm said.


After seeing one of the planes overhead, Klemm knew it wasn't a drill.  "The plane that dropped the bomb pulled right over our ship and I saw the two big red circles on the wings," he said.


The Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor.


Klemm jumped into action and manned his battle station, helping load 3-inch guns to return fire.  "By that time a lot of planes were coming downed and bombs were dropping," he said.


After the bombing stopped, Klemm helped search for survivors. "Everybody that was pulled out was full of oil and they had a blanket on them. Really miserable. Over at the Arizona there were just a few men. That's what sticks in my mind," Klemm said.


That day 2,335 of his fellow servicemen were killed. One of those men was Klemm's best friend.


On Saturday, Klemm, along with two other survivors, were honored during a small ceremony at the Zephyrhills Museum of History in Zephyrhills.


At the age of 90, Klemm has no problem telling the story of that "date that will live in infamy" to anyone who wants to hear it.

Print this article Back to Top