Pearl Harbor survivor recounts Japanese attack 71 years later - CBS46 News

Pearl Harbor survivor recounts Japanese attack 71 years later

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Soldiers who survived the Pearl Harbor attack have been declining; it's been more than seven decades after the Japanese attacked Hawaii.

But there's at least one metro Atlanta man who saw the tragedy firsthand, he's Army Cpl. Leonard Santangelo.

Santangelo was supposed to begin a three-day pass the day of the attack, but his life changed forever when he heard the bombs drop 71 years ago.

"The Japs were so, it was so planned," said Santangelo. "As they first came in, they hit the communications center. The Army couldn't get in touch with the Navy; nobody knew what they were doing because they couldn't contact each other."

More than seven decades ago, Santangelo stood in line for breakfast near Hickam Field on Oahu Island when the Japanese began their attack. Even today the buildings there still show the scars from war.

"They tell me is, 'How did you feel when the Japanese attacked us in Hawaii?'" said Santangelo. "It's a stupid question. You know what I tell them? I peed my pants."

December 7, 1941, Japanese military attacked U.S. military installations in Hawaii, and Santangelo said his squad shot down three Japanese aircrafts.

"We didn't use our anti-aircraft guns, we used our rifles," said Santangelo. "We did lose 15 men that day - you know, they were sleeping, that's what bothers me. And even to this day, I can't never forget it. These men died without even knowing what happened, they were sleeping." 

More than 70 years later, the Paulding County public library honored World War II veterans with gratitude - and Santangelo keeps going.

"Why do you tell this story every year?" asked CBS Atlanta News reporter Steve Kiggins.

"I want people to realize what happened could happen again, it could happen now," said Santangelo.

Santangelo keeps pretty busy even at his age - he regularly makes the rounds at local schools and churches sharing his amazing story.  

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