Cleveland WWII Veteran survived Pearl Harbor attack 75 years ago
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,000 Americans and propelled the country into World War II. Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of Japan's attack.
December 7th was then famously declared by President Roosevelt as "A date which will live in infamy."
Since the attacks, Bradley County's only living survivor of Pearl Harbor said he doesn't get much sleep on December 7th.
George Allen, 94, said he still remembers the events that happened like it was yesterday.
"The whole thing, I can see that Jap zero coming after me to this day. I can see him looking over, he pulled his canopy back after he shot around at us and blew a hole in the building over our head," Allen said.
Army Private Allen was just 19 when the Japanese attacked his base on Pearl Harbor. He ha ad been stationed there for about three months, and on the morning of December 7th, Allen was up early reporting for kitchen duty.
Allen survived the bombings but more than 2,400 of his fellow soldiers did not. The survivors then went straight into war.
"I didn't see a bed for three years, eight months and 12 days, I was in a fox hole preparing for training to go on to another battle," Allen said.
The scars from that fateful day cut deep. Which is why it took almost seven decades for Allen to talk about what he saw even to those closest to him.
"I didn't talk about it to anybody, not even my daughter didn't know anything about it until 2006. From 1941. That's how many years," he said.
Now, 75 years later, Allen realizes there aren't many storytellers left.
"There's not many of us, most of us are in nursing homes and that stuff," Allen said, "See there's 300 in the world left, and I'm one of them right."
Since his time in the Army, Allen has lived a full life.
He became a musician and moved to Cleveland to be close to his daughter. And at 94-years-old, he's still able to drive his car.
But there are pieces of history Allen witnessed that still haunt him to this day.
"Sometimes I'll wake up at night and be banging the walls. You can see can't cha? But I probably only have one of them dreams once a month now, I used to have them every two days, so it's getting good," Allen said.
Allen said it's getting better, knowing his service to his country will not be forgotten.
Allen was honored by the VFW in Cleveland for his service in WWII. They named a local pavilion after Allen.