WWII veteran survived Pearl Harbor attack 76 years ago
George Allen remembers when he enlisted in the army in 1940. He’s the only living Pearl Harbor survivor in Bradley County and was just 19 years old when the Japanese attacked his base.
"War!" it's that headline that inked the pages of papers across the globe.
Thursday marks 76 years since the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Japan.
December 7, 1941, is a date President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "will live in infamy." More than seven decades later it's still fresh on the minds of those that lived through that day.
"They didn't know at that time where they were gonna hit, we didn't know, none of us,” Allen recalled.
It’s that uncertainty, 95-year-old George Allen remembers when he enlisted in the army in 1940. He’s the only living Pearl Harbor survivor in Bradley County and was just 19 years old when the Japanese attacked his base.
"A Jap zero comes around the building and shoots at us, let's go of his gun, he was flying real low around the building,” he said.
Allen had only been stationed for three months, he was up early for kitchen duty when our country was attacked from above.
"We didn't even have a rifle because the armory was locked up and the guy with the key was on the hill at his parent house,” Allen explained.
It's hard for him to think about the 2,400 soldiers who were killed during the bombings because those that survived had no time to think. They went straight into war.
"We were always moving. I didn't see a real bed for 3 years and 8 months,” he recalled.
Thursday, Allen was honored at a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. He lit a memorial candle for the fallen and received a proclamation signed by Governor Bill Haslam.
Allen’s daughter, Janet, stood by his side with pride for her father and our country.
"For me to look at him today and know him as a child never knowing what he endured and some of the things he saw and who he may have had to shoot at, it's unbearable,” she said.
It took Allen several years to talk about what he saw during the war. Today he knows the importance of sharing his story because he's one of the last storytellers left.
"You don't forget that," he said. "I’ll wake up every once in a while and I’m still in the foxhole,”
Since his time in the army, Allen became a musician and moved to Cleveland to be close to his daughter.