Pearl Harbor survivor recalls "date which will live in infamy." - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pearl Harbor survivor recalls "Date which will live in infamy."

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WDRB) Today is the 71st anniversary of what President Franklin Roosevelt called "A date which will live in infamy."

WDRB talked to a Louisville veteran who survived one of the darkest days in American history; the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

His name is Thomas Crump. He's 91 years old, but still has vivid memories of December 7, 1941.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful life."

Tom Crump is literally surrounded by memories of his 30-year career in the Marine Corps.

"I've witnessed quite a few things in my life."

But nothing ever as shocking and horrible as what he witnessed 71 years ago today.

"That's where I was standing when they bombed."

Crump was a 20-year-old private first class working for naval intelligence. His job - guard the dry dock to protect the ships from sabotage.

No one expected an attack from above.

"If you're standing there and all of the sudden, a bomb hits close to you. All of the sudden, you're just in shock."

But there was no time for shock. Ships were in flames. People were dying.

Crump recalls a close encounter with an enemy pilot.

"He had his canopy open. He had his goggles pushed up on his helmet, and he had a little black mustache, and he was grinning so and just as happy as anything you could ever see. But he was so close I shot at him with my pistol, and I'm pretty sure I hit him."

After the attack, Crump had the grim task of recovering body parts.

"How would you like to be a guard, and follow a dump truck over in a cane field and watch a bulldozer dig a grave and bury body parts. How would you like to do that?"

But Crump did his duty. As did other men and women that day. December 7, 1941. A date he'll never forget.

"You can't. It's in your guts."

A date that changed his life forever.

"I just cried like a baby. I never was so afraid of anything in my life. I prayed to God, and a lot of other people were praying there with me, that he'd save me one more time so I could come home and tell momma that I loved her. I didn't think much about God until then. But, boy I've thought about him ever since."

Crump was wounded by shrapnel, but says he never received a purple heart.

But, he'll always have the memories. And he hopes America, also, never forgets.

Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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