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Monday, November 3, 2014

The "Meeting Jimmy Lee" Story

Jimmy Lee talking with Carol and me about his Pearl
 Harbor experiences. Strangely, sitting next to him was

a Navy Veteran whose name also was Jimmy Lee.
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Jimmy Lee about his remem- brances of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Jimmy is one of the survivors or witnesses to the attack who is manning the table at the National Park Service's Arizona Memorial and is more than willing to share with Carol and me the scary and horrendous day almost 73 years ago.  He was 11 years old at the time and lived on a farm that overlooked the waters of Battleship Row and Ford Island.  He said he heard noises that fateful morning in the direction of the military base about a mile from his farm and after hearing a few explosions sat on the railroad tracks by his place and watched as Japanese planes bombed ship after ship.  Shortly later he and his family as well as neighborhood friends heard that the Japanese had landed so they ran to a nearby cave up in the hills above his farm to hide.  
These are photos that he showed us of him and his dog
as well as a map of Pearl Harbor area.
They stayed in the cave for three days until they decided to head for home.  By then the entire island was under Martial Law which lasted for the next few years.  Jimmy was Japanese, but was a United States citizen since he was born on Hawaii.  Many of his friends who were Japanese, but didn't hold United States citizenship, where rounded up and sent to the mainland for their own protection as well as some were suspect that they may have been involved in the plot to bomb the harbor.  He eventually graduated from high school on the island and in 1953 was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War era.  He was sent to Officer Training School in Oklahoma, but eventually resigned so he could be with is buddies in Korea.  Instead he was sent to Europe to serve in the Occupation of Germany.  He intended to make the military his life, but had to return to the family farm when illness and death arrived in his family.  He continued in the Army Reserves for over 40 years, retiring as a SGM with a Legion of Merit award for his service.  Jimmy's eyes grow big as he remembers that day in December and how he thought it was a big fireworks display until he finally realized the magnitude of the event, even at the age of 11.  He said there are many other events in his life he has forgotten, but that day in infamy will never be forgotten.  It as another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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