AUGUSTA (WJBF) – The Augusta Elks Lodge is commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack by getting local veterans together.
21 World War II veterans showed up at the organization’s event Wednesday to share their war stories with everyone.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are only 620,000 World War Two vets still alive out of the 16 million who served in that war.
“I was 17 years old the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. One week later, I joined the Marine Corp,” World War II veteran George Trusler said.
It’s a similar story for every man who showed up at Wednesday’s get-together.
The attack on Pearl Harbor changed their lives forever.
“I was 17 years old when I got there. We survived and came back out without any trouble. I was happy to get through it all, if you know what I mean,” Pearl Harbor survivor Pete Cartee said.
93-year-old Cartee was a Navy Seaman in Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked in 1941.
“I still got the memories. I go back. I keep going back, every December 7th it still brings it up for me. It’s hard to forget… let me tell you,” Cartee said.
Whatever their role was in the second World War, it didn’t matter. They’re all brothers now.
92-year-old Calvin Jones was a cook in the Marine Corp, but even more significant… he was one of the first African-American men to serve in the military.
“I was never allowed on post at Camp Lejeune because during that time it was a segregated Army and so my camp was on the outside of the gate there,” Jones said.
75 years have gone by and that’s why it’s so important to share the stories of these men.
“They don’t know World War 2 no more. It’s all Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm,” Cartee said.
For George Trusler, this day is especially important because it’s also his Birthday.
“It’s great to be 92-years-old and in good health. It’s always appreciated when somebody recognizes something you’ve done for yourself, your family and your country,” Trusler said.
As each year goes by, we lose more World War II Vets, but with events like this, their stories will live on.
“This is a good place to be meeting, but like I said, you can’t hardly get everybody together. We’re lucky to get the crew we have now, you know,” Cartee said.
Most of the men who showed up at the event are 92 or 93-years-old. There was a 100-year-old veteran in attendance.
Some other local World War II veterans were invited, but couldn’t make it because of their health.