93-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor recalls that day 74 years ago

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every year on December 7, Americans observe Pearl Harbor Day, but few Americans actually remember that day — even fewer were there to live it.

December 7, 1941, is the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Robert Greenleaf of Westfield, Massachusetts remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I was a student at the pacific fleet machine gun school operated by the Marine Corps for the Navy. We were on the beach and behind us on both sides was trees, so we could hear what was going on in Pearl Harbor but the trees kept us from seeing it,” said Greenleaf.

Robert said it was the sounds from that day that have stuck with him all these years.

“One of them was the Arizona blowing up and the other was the U.S.S. Shaw, which was a dry dock with all its ammunition aboard, it got hit and the forward part of the ship just vaporized. Those sounds were a lot different from regular bomb sounds,” said Greenleaf.

Robert wishes schools would teach more about World War II. He thinks more wars could be prevented if people new exactly how many lives were lost back then.

Robert, who’s now 93, said young Americans need to be aware the Japanese were as successful as they were because the U.S. was not alert. He hopes if Americans learn to be alert, history won’t repeat itself.

He said there was one good thing to come out of the attack: “When [they] attacked Pearl Harbor, there was no more division. There was on December the 6, but on December the 7 and after, everybody worked together for a common cause.”

Click here to watch video on this story from 8News sister station WWLP.

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