By Kristin Rover
Clermont County resident Joe Whitt will never forget the events of Dec. 7, 1941.
According to Whitt, the day began just as any other Sunday for members of the United States Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor.
“We got up and had breakfast and had no trouble at all,” Whitt said.
He said many of the servicemen were dressed in uniform that day, which included white shorts, a white shirt and hat.
“That is the worst thing we could have had on,” Whitt said.
Whitt said the uniforms were like a target for the Japanese pilots who invaded the naval base just before 8 a.m.
Whitt said he realized something wasn’t right when he and other servicemen were called to respond to an attack.
“They called for volunteers with rifles,” Whitt said. “I ran up to the deck and there were those planes bombing.”
Whitt said the planes with machine guns were shooting at any white uniform they saw.
He said he began shooting back with weapons that he received from the armory.
“I saw the Arizona blow up looking right over the harbor,” Whitt said. “Oil was burning. Men were trying to get off the ship and jumping into the burning water.”
Whitt said some of the men he was with were also hit with bullets, some in the legs because the bullets were bouncing up from the ship’s deck.
Whitt said he wasn’t hit with a bullet then, and he immediately went into World War II.
“I went through the entire war, 17 battles,” Whitt said. “I heard the first shot and I heard the last shot.”
Whitt, who is now in his 90s, is one of the only Pearl Harbor survivors in the area.
“I am proud to be here,” Whitt said during the ceremony.
Many individuals gathered to hear Whitt’s story during a Pearl Harbor Remembrance in New Richmond Dec. 1.
In addition to Whitt’s recollection of the attack, Congressman Brad Wenstrup, State Representative Doug Green, Clermont County Commissioners Bob Proud and Ed Humphrey and other individuals spoke about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I want to thank Joe for his preservation of this history for all of us,” Wenstrup said during the ceremony. “Joe represents the greatest generation this country has ever seen.”
Wenstrup said people joined together following the attack at Pearl Harbor.
“We have to assure them we will continue to tell their story,” Wenstrup said.
Several performers sung during the ceremony including John Hale, Representative Green and Stephanie Williford.
The Pearl Harbor Remembrance has been held in New Richmond for many years.
Ralph Shepherd, event organizer in New Richmond and member of the New Richmond Color Guard, said next year the ceremony will fall on Dec. 7.
The ceremony was held at the Market Street school in the village at 2 p.m.