HEAT ALERT

Hot and humid weather moves in Tuesday for Long Island

LI veteran recalls serving in Hawaii during Pearl Harbor attack 72 years later

Saturday marked the 72nd anniversary of one of the darkest days in U.S. history: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Images from the surprise attack have been seared into the memories of many Americans,

News 12 Staff

Dec 8, 2013, 3:52 AM

Updated 3,844 days ago

Share:


Saturday marked the 72nd anniversary of one of the darkest days in U.S. history: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Images from the surprise attack have been seared into the memories of many Americans, but of course, they are particularly vivid for the veterans who were serving the nation in Hawaii when the attack happened. World War II veteran Gerald Barbosa, 89, of East Meadow, was a 17-year-old gunner's mate serving aboard the USS Raleigh in Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Barbosa went up onto the ship's deck moments before what seemed like the end of the world hit, and he recalls the chaos of the attack. "The machine gun bullets from the planes are bouncing off the deck, off the bulkhead," he says. "When the torpedo hit, man, it looked like it lifted the whole ship up and bounced it back in the water."

As Japan targeted the Hawaiian harbor with 350 warplanes and dive-bombers, all Barbosa could think about was saving his ship and destroying the enemy. "All we could do was keep on firing. It seemed like it never stopped," he says.

By the time the strike had ended, 21 U.S. ships were either sunk or damaged, more than 180 U.S. aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 Americans were killed. The "date which will live in infamy," as President Roosevelt famously put it, pushed America into World War II, and Barbosa spent the next three years fighting in Europe.

The Nassau native was present for the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and was wounded by bomb shrapnel. But the emotional scars of war hurt the most. "Some of my good friends all died," Barbosa says.

It's why Barbosa hasn't missed a single Pearl Harbor memoriam flower-drop ceremony since it began 43 years ago. Today, 72 roses, one for each year since the attack, were blessed and flown by a vintage war plane to the Statue of Liberty. At 12:55 p.m., the exact time of the bombing, the roses were dropped from the plane to honor the lives that were lost.


More from News 12
5:18
HEAT ALERT: Hot and humid weather moves in Tuesday for Long Island

HEAT ALERT: Hot and humid weather moves in Tuesday for Long Island

0:49
Nassau to open cooling centers amid high heat this week

Nassau to open cooling centers amid high heat this week

2:21
West Babylon school district to vote on second spending plan Tuesday

West Babylon school district to vote on second spending plan Tuesday

0:16
Man wanted for stealing over $2,000 from Island Park vape shop

Man wanted for stealing over $2,000 from Island Park vape shop

1:43
Main Street Long Island: Showcasing the best of Lynbrook

Main Street Long Island: Showcasing the best of Lynbrook

1:36
Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Remember Me Rescue NY on June 17

Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Remember Me Rescue NY on June 17

0:18
Police: 45-year-old man dies after being found unresponsive in West Islip pool

Police: 45-year-old man dies after being found unresponsive in West Islip pool

1:40
Officials: Fire displaces 18 from Hempstead home with illegal subdivisions

Officials: Fire displaces 18 from Hempstead home with illegal subdivisions

0:33
Police: Man arrested in Montauk hit-and-run that left e-bike riders hurt

Police: Man arrested in Montauk hit-and-run that left e-bike riders hurt

0:29
Nassau police: 2 women charged in Franklin Square home burglary

Nassau police: 2 women charged in Franklin Square home burglary

0:35
Police: Man accused of driving drunk in East Meadow with 13-year-old boy inside car

Police: Man accused of driving drunk in East Meadow with 13-year-old boy inside car

2:02
 A potential heat wave is coming. These sunscreen tips can save your skin

A potential heat wave is coming. These sunscreen tips can save your skin

1:20
Rapper Ja Rule performs at Mitchel Field as part of Nassau County’s Juneteenth celebration

Rapper Ja Rule performs at Mitchel Field as part of Nassau County’s Juneteenth celebration

0:31
Suffolk police: Motorcyclist seriously hurt in Bay Shore crash

Suffolk police: Motorcyclist seriously hurt in Bay Shore crash

1:46
‘We lost a brother.’ Friends, loved ones remember ‘Rookie of the Year’ firefighter at Hagerman FD

‘We lost a brother.’ Friends, loved ones remember ‘Rookie of the Year’ firefighter at Hagerman FD

1:34
Early voting begins on Long Island for Democratic primary elections

Early voting begins on Long Island for Democratic primary elections

All lanes clear on Southern State parkway following overturned vehicle crash

All lanes clear on Southern State parkway following overturned vehicle crash

2:07
New beach rules limiting access take effect after shooting in Long Beach

New beach rules limiting access take effect after shooting in Long Beach

2:15
Police: Woman arrested for motorcyclist hit-and-run in Patchogue

Police: Woman arrested for motorcyclist hit-and-run in Patchogue

2:15
Oakdale residents call for Islip officials to hold owners of former Dowling College more accountable

Oakdale residents call for Islip officials to hold owners of former Dowling College more accountable