News: Pearl Harbor survivors visit Wheeler Airfield and Schofield Barracks
WAHIAWA, Hawaii - Seven Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans visited with soldiers and wounded warriors at Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks, Wednesday, Dec. 4 as part of the festivities leading up to the remembrance ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
U.S. Army veteran Thomas Petso, vividly remembers the events there that infamous Sunday morning.
“We were playing football over there [on the flight line], and I don’t know why but I looked at my watch and it was 8:00 and all of the sudden - I heard these planes coming up over our heads,” he said. “It wasn’t long, they had blown up these hangars there, and they had blown up about 100 and some P-40s and P-36s. We ran to our barracks to get our rifles, because we knew we were at war.”
As the survivors walked around the hangar, remembering that day 72 years ago, while they saw the remnants of that day, they were also able to see how things have changed.
Peyton Smith, a U.S. Navy quartermaster at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard at the time of the attack, said he had one word to describe it all, “mind-boggling.”
“I’ve always had a problem with these young kids using these electronic gadgets all the time,” Smith said. “I feel differently about it now, it’s using all of these electronic gadgets that they need to fly these machines and do their jobs. It certainly put things into perspective for me.”
It was also a learning experience for those who fly today’s helicopters with the latest technology.
“It’s a real privilege to have them here and see them,” said Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Koren. “They’re much older, but when you talk to them one-on-one, you realize they’re just like us. They did some amazing things, more than I can ever dream of doing.”
The feeling from the younger generation of service member was also felt later on that day, as the group of survivors visited the Wounded Warrior Battalion on Schofield Barracks.
“People say ‘pages come alive’ to me,” said U.S. Army Spc. Roberto Torres. “They were right in front of me: living, breathing and still kicking. These men paved the way for me, of what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be. They don’t take no for an answer, that’s how I was brought up. After meeting with them and talking with them today, I can look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I’ve done.”