World War II Veteran and Pearl Harbor Survivor Tells Story of Attack 80 Years On

by Samantha Whidden

With the 80th-anniversary ceremony of the infamous attack on the U.S. Pearl Harbor Naval Base set to take place on Tuesday, a World War II veteran and survivor of the historical event is recalling everything that he saw that ill-fated day.  

During an interview with Fox News, Jack Holder, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, recalled how he and his squadron heard the Japanese planes approach. He stated that they had assumed they were American planes until the first explosion occurred. “We ran outside and [saw] all the aircraft in with Rising Sun insignia and that explained it all,” Holder explained. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s something I’ll never forget. 

The Pearl Harbor survivor stated that he actually saw a wave of Japanese pilots descend on the battleship row and was raining down bombs and bullets. “One of their pilots had seen us and staffed the ditch with machine-gun fire missing us by three feet.”

Meanwhile, Fox News reports that Holder was among the 150 World War II vets, and 20 Pearl Harbor survivors, that are attending the ceremony in Hawaii. Holder also reflected on the lives that were lost on that day. “I’d seen seamen jumping into the water covered with oil and fire,” he explained. The veteran added that most of the seamen ended up dying in the water.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is December 7th

Survivors, veterans, and visitors will come together to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Tuesday (December 7th).

According to the Pearl Harbor website, an additional 1,178 people were also injured during the attack. Two U.S. Navy battleships, USS Arizona and USS Utah, permanently sank that day. 

The website also reveals that the theme for this year’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration will be Valor, Sacrifice, and Peace. The ceremony is to ensure future generations will understand the valor and legacy of those who perished; and those who fought throughout World War II. “The commemoration also highlights the importance of the peace that brought a reconciliation. [It] continues to create a better future for all.”

Fox News reports that anyone who was enlisting following the Pearl Harbor attack would be at least 98 years old. Holder 100 years old. Meanwhile, the veteran went to the advice that he gave school-aged children recently. “They need to stay in school. And remember two things; treasure the flag and remember that they live in the greatest country in the world.”

It is noted that the main ceremony will begin at 7:45 a.m. on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s Kilo Pier.