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Canyon Country man present at Pearl Harbor recalls infamous day

December 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A California man was at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago when the base was attacked. More than 2,300 American service members were killed and 1,200 more were wounded. Four battleships were sunk.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, 91-year-old Marv Bittick was on a Coast Guard cutter. His ship was in the ocean off Honolulu as Japanese planes flew over. Shortly after that, he heard the sounds of bombs going off. And he watched as the USS Arizona battleship was hit along with other ships in Pearl Harbor.

"We were watching it and saw when the Arizona went up," said Bittick. "I thought 'Boy, it looks like we're into it.'"

The young signalman and the rest of the country were definitely into it. His ship sunk the first Japanese submarine as it cruised underwater a few days later.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan, which brought the U.S. into World War II.

Bittick and his ship went to war along with the rest of the nation. But as he watched the ships burn in Honolulu he didn't know he was witnessing the death of a relative.

"A second cousin on the Arizona, he had just graduated from Annapolis in June. Of course he went down on it," said Bittick. "The thing is we lost a lot of fine men, but that's the way war is."

Bittick says he was shocked. And knew that both he and his brother would be going to war.

"We realized what we were going to have to do," said Bittick.

Bittick says he found it unbelievable. He worries now about other countries that may now want to destroy the United States.

"I wonder if our country is prepared for things like this to happen, because it can happen," said Bittick. "There's terrorists that are after us all the time."

Talking to people like Captain Bittick is priceless. In the near future it's going to be very difficult to find survivors like the captain to talk to.


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