WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP/WOOD) – While fewer Americans remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, even fewer survivors are alive to recount it.
Robert Greenleaf of Westfield remembers Dec. 7, 1941 like it was yesterday.
“I was a student at the Pacific fleet machine gun school operated by the Marine Corps for the Navy. We were on the beach and behind us on both sides was (sic) trees, so we could hear what was going on in Pearl Harbor. But the trees kept us from seeing it,” said Greenleaf.
Greenleaf said it was the sounds from that day that have stuck with him all these years.
“One of them was the Arizona blowing up and the other was the U.S.S. Shaw, which was at dry dock with all of its ammunition aboard. It got hit and the forward part of the ship just vaporized. Those sounds were a lot different from regular bomb sounds,” he recalled.
Greenleaf wishes schools would teach more about World War II. He thinks more wars could be prevented if people knew exactly how many lives were lost back then.
Greenleaf, who is now 93 years old, said young Americans need to be aware the Japanese were as successful as they were because the U.S. was not alert. He hopes if Americans are more vigilant, history won’t repeat itself.
Greenleaf told our sister station WWLP there was one good thing to come out of the attack:
“When the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor, there was no more division. There was on December the 6th, but on December the 7th and after, everybody worked together for a common cause,” he said.
Greeleaf is the only Pearl Harbor Survivor still alive in Westfield, Massachusetts.