Veteran Reflects On Pearl Harbor Attack, The Day Life Was 'No Longer The Same'

After Pearl Harbor, Life Was 'No Longer The Same'

It was life and business as usual for Navy veteran Richard Pena until the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941.

Pena was eating breakfast and was about to head out for his morning duty as quartermaster to raise the flag when the attack started, he told HuffPost Live. As far as he recalls, the flags never went up that day, Pena said.

Before the attack, Pena said he and his fellow officers were living "the good life" stationed in Hawaii. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, it was his first time away from home.

"In the blinking of an eye, a split second, your life is turned topsy-turvy," Pena reminisced. "It's hard to describe what you're feeling. People tell you you've trained for this all the time, but you didn't know that it was going to happen the way it did."

While serving members of the armed forces today have the option of staying in touch with family through email and cell phones, at that time there was no way for survivors to reach their families. For Pena and many others, it wasn't until Christmas Day in 1941, over two weeks after the attack, that they were finally able to tell their families they were alive.

Though it's been over 70 years since the bombings on Pearl Harbor, the memories of the day are still very much alive. Active service members stationed in Hawaii consider the site a living memorial. In fact, a volunteer group of service members joined together to look after and maintain the site after it was neglected during the government shutdown earlier this year.

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