SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The attack on Pearl Harbor took the whole nation by surprise, but none were as surprised as those who were in the harbor on that quiet Sunday morning.
Friday marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. After all that time, the memories of what happened on that Sunday morning still live in Howard Luckham's memory.
“It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen," Luckham told KVAL’s David Walker. “I can remember this just as if it happened yesterday."
The 94-year-old Springfield resident was aboard the U.S.S. Helena when it was struck by a torpedo in the Pearl Harbor attack.
“It knocked me probably 10-feet up against the bulkhead and everything I can remember turned blue. I thought I was gone,” said Luckham.
The torpedo struck the engine room. Luckham recalls that he saw flames coming through the compartment above him, which was a sleeping compartment.
“I ran up the ladder and these guys are all burned. Their bunks were on fire ... everything,” Luckham said.
Shortly after the ship was hit, Luckham went to his battle station, an anti-aircraft gun. At the gun he fought alongside one of his best friends.
“I yelled at Greenwald to turn 4 degrees left. The gun never moved … he got hit right here,” Luckham said, gesturing to his throat.
“Men were in the bay swimming in the water on fire. It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen."
These are just one man’s memories of president Roosevelt called “a day that will live in infamy”.
“I'm surprised that schools are not telling children about the history. (I’m) really surprised and it hurts me." Said Luckham.
It is his hope that the events of that day will be remembered long after he and the other survivors are gone.