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Locals remember Pearl Harbor

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Local historians say December 7, 1941 in Wilmington began just like December 7, 2009, cold and gray. Thousands of miles away that day, Japanese forces attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Six men who survived the attack took part in a memorial service Monday at the Battleship North Carolina.

Pender County native Homer Henderson was a 20-year-old seaman aboard the U.S.S. California.

“We were proud of our ship,” he said. “We loved our ship. The attack came as a complete surprise. The dive-bombers came first out of the sun. I was on turret 2, 14-inch turrets, and I was the firing pointer, and the chief gunner’s mate came out and took us out of the turret to help pass the ammunition from down below, ’cause the power was knocked out when we got torpedoed. And we passed ammunition by hand, and then we formed a bucket brigade when we caught on fire.”

“We were torpedoed, we were bombed and we were strafed by ammunition from the planes, and to tell you the truth, I don’t know how I survived, because I was busy putting the wounded and the dead into boats alongside. So we were either fighting fire, we were putting the wounded and dead in the boats to take to the hospital, so I don’t know how I survived. I was just fortunate. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t, you know, enter my mind. It have me a thankfulness that I’ll never forget, because I survived it. I had a lot of friends, 197 on my ship, that didn’t make it.”

At least three men from the Wilmington area were among the more than 2,400 U.S. servicemen killed in the attack at Pearl Harbor.

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Story summary

videoOn this date in 1941, Japanese forces attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Six men who survived the attack took part in a memorial service Monday at the Battleship North Carolina.

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