BUCHANAN — Certainly, Earl “Judd’’ Walls knows what transpired 70 years ago at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The problem, he says, is that few others do.
“I think most of them have (forgotten),’’ he said Wednesday, in the aftermath of an observance honoring the 2,403 U. S. military personnel who lost their lives that day.
The “day of infamy,’’ as then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described it, sparked the country’s entry into World War II.
Like many, Walls, who now lives in Niles and was just 18 the day Japanese bombers appeared over Hawaii, said his initial thought when he observed the planes was that another in a series of drills was under way.
Fortunately for him, he was stationed at a submarine base about a mile from Battleship Row, putting him on the fringe of the attack and keeping him out of harm’s way.
“Some tried to get a gun and shoot (at the planes) where we were,’’ but the effort was futile, he said.
“There wasn’t much we could do anyway … I was just watching, to tell you the truth.’’
Walls said he wasn’t frightened until nightfall, when rumors abounded that a Japanese invasion was imminent. But his 4-hour stint of sentry duty that night proved uneventful, as was his ensuing duty at Midway that occurred well after the pitched battle there had ended.
Walls, 88, is one of an estimated 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive. Two others, John DeFields and Robert Flaherty, live in Berrien County.