97-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran shares experience with Concord students
CONCORD, Calif. (KTVU) - For nearly eight decades Don Long has been extremely thankful he survived the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor.
"I'm one damn lucky kid. The guys that were on the other aircrafts in the water. They didn't survive," Long said.
On December 7th, 1941, Long who was a Navy radio trainee, was stationed in Kāne'ohe Bay across the island from Pearl Harbor.
"I was just looking towards the shore and hangers started exploding and airplanes on the ground were obviously being strafe," Long said.
He said he remembers the day vividly, hearing the airplanes coming from the hillside. His first thought that there was training nearby.
"I think just about everyone thought it was the Army or Navy. I know one guy who said he thought it was the carrier pilot coming back in from one of the ships at sea," he said.
Now 77 years later, Long shared his experiences with students from St. Francis of Assisi school in Concord.
He told the students how he barely made it out alive. "When I saw planes making runs at other aircraft's, bombings. I went to get a life jacket, but on my way back, I was strafed then because I recall the spurts of water coming up from the bottom of the airplane," said Long.
On Friday, Long and his fellow survivors came together to share their stories and remember a time gone by. He said in his lifetime, there were only two times the nation has come together: Pearl Harbor and September 11th.
He said he hopes that changes in the future. "We were as one and we got the job done both times. Why we can't do that today? I don't know."