News: 4-2 SBCT Honors Pearl Harbor Veteran
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - On Dec. 07, 1941, former Staff Sgt. Alfred Eye, a young corporal at the time, started his day at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, like every other day talking and enjoying a meal with his buddies.
However, this would be a day he would never forget.
“I was eating in the mess-hall – I believe it is still called that – when I heard a loud boom, and then another boom. We all ran outside to see planes flying really low,” he said, pausing to take a breath and collect himself. “We lost a lot of guys.”
Nearly seven decades later, discussing what happened on that infamous day is still difficult for Eye, though he does talk about it.
“I survived and my buddies didn’t,” he said.
In the years following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Eye served as an infantryman with the 25th Infantry Division throughout the Pacific, including Guadalcanal and the liberation of the Philippines. In the Philippines, he was hit by an enemy bullet, the round tearing through his hand and deflecting off of his rifle stock – instead of striking his body.
After being injured, he was medically evacuated back to Hawaii, however in the process of returning home at least three of the awards he received in combat in the Pacific went missing.
Sixty-nine years later, it took the efforts of Spc. Nathaniel Glaser, the great-grandson of Eye and a soldier from D Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Amy Mercer, Eye’s granddaughter, and other family members to track down the missing records and get the World War II veteran’s awards re-issued to him at a ceremony at Soldiers Field House here, Dec. 7.
“I am very happy to have played a role in this [award presentation], because if it wasn’t for the sacrifices of the guys who went before us, we wouldn’t be here,” said Glaser.
Standing in front of family members, he was presented the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge by Capt. James King, the commander of D Troop, for actions performed before any of the soldiers watching from the bleachers were even born.
“I am happy to be honored today,” said the Pearl Harbor survivor. “The Army is so much different [now] from when I was in.”
For Glaser, growing up with a family member that participated in one of the major turning points in American history influenced him greatly as a child.
“When I was younger, I heard a lot of stories from my great-grandfather about the [Pearl Harbor] attack,” said Glaser. “His life has inspired me a lot and he has supported me a lot.”
He added, since joining the Army, the relationship between himself and his great-grandfather has become more open.
“We had something in common, so we began talking more [about] life and things,” said Glaser.
An unmanned aerial vehicle operator, Glaser deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2009 to 2010.
“Before I deployed to Iraq, my great-grandfather gave me some good advice -- to find a good friend that could watch my back, keep my head low, and eat whenever you can,” said Glaser, with a smile.
Even while he was in Iraq, he managed to stay in touch with his great-grandfather.
“My great-grandfather and I kept in good communication while I was in Iraq,” said Glaser. “He is always on the computer.”
After the ceremony, the 89-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor met with soldiers from Glaser’s unit, where he shared stories from his time in the service.
“He is amazing, and it is just amazing to be able to do this [award presentation],” said King. “We are all very humbled by this guy and we are all just proud to be here.”
Date Posted:12.13.2010 21:35
Location:JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA, US
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