Eighty-one years. That’s now almost a lifetime ago, but for 100-year-old World War II veteran, Herb Elfring, he still remembers the early hours of December 7th, 1941, like it was yesterday.
“I heard this airplane coming and didn’t pay much attention until a line of striking bullets went past me about 15 feet away,” said Elfring.
Bracing for cover he looked to the sky.
“I saw that airplane then and it had a red ball on the side, and I said my goodness that’s a Japanese plane. That’s not our plane.”
He was a Private, training in radar technology. It’s a strategy that he says was just getting started, but as people scattered, he took his orders and got in position knowing that something much bigger was beginning before his eyes.
“From that moment on I started to realize what was happening and we were being attacked,” said Elfring.
More than 2,400 Americans were killed that day. Elfring is one of the few known servicemen still living that survived the attacks. He makes his way back to the Pearl Harbor memorial every year he can. He says even at his age, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be there to remember and show his support.
“It’s just honorable to be able to participate to tell you the truth.”
Elfring says his time in the service helped make him the man he is. He ranked up all the way to captain and was given several awards along the way.
“To live through what I have and to have lived this long and being able to just be here is a blessing and hard to tell, and hard to describe.”