POSTED: Monday, December 7, 2009 - 7:16pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:25pm
Sixty-eight years ago today, an unannounced military attack by the Japanese Navy shocked and horrified our country. It's a day that will live in infamy. Those were the words of then president Franklin Roosevelt. Three-hundred-fifty-three Japanese Navy airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor in two waves. American casualties: 2,402 dead and more than 1,200 wounded.
Elmer Gauger was a gunner on the U.S. Pennsylvania. He was right in the heart of the attack. "A lot of people were rescued out of the water. Ships were turned over," said Gauger.
Now Elmer's 90 years old. There's a lot of detail he doesn't remember, but he says they're images from that day, he'll never forget. "The fires," Gauger recalls. "The ships on fire. It was a rough day for us, really."
Gauger now spends this day each year honoring those who fought at Pearl Harbor and usually at a ceremony like the one at the Ft. Bliss National Cemetery where we found him on Monday. At these ceremonies, he himself, is honored.
As he watched two vintage World War II airplanes fly over the ceremony, the Navy veteran remembered the lessons learned and one of the positive notes from that horrible day. "Pearl Harbor brought this country together," said Gauger. "It really brought this country together."