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Area's last Pearl Harbor survivor recalls attacks

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 19:25:33-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — December 7, 1941 - a day which will live in infamy is a day Bob Batterson will never forget.

Batterson remembers the shock of the attack, fear as it continued, and surprise when it was over.

“What if you were sitting at home having breakfast and somebody broke into your house and started to shoot you?,” Batterson asked.

That's what Batterson asks people who ask him what it was like on that day 80 years ago.

Batterson was a 20-year-old Sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese.

“They were doing quite a bit of damage every minute,” Batterson said.

For 90 minutes, the Japanese bombardment continued, inflicting heavy American losses. There were 2,403 dead, and another 1,178 wounded. There were also 21 ships damaged or sunk, including all eight battleships which were docked there, 88 planes destroyed.

Then, as suddenly as they appeared, the Japanese left.

“I was surprised they left when they did because we were absolutely helpless,” Batterson said.

Batterson believes if the Japanese came back for a third wave, the results would have been catastrophic.

“We could have lost the war,” Batterson said. “They were well prepared for what they intended to do, but they sure screwed up on that third strike.”

Now 100-years-old, Batterson can often be found aboard the USS Lexington where he volunteers in the Pearl Harbor exhibit. He shares first-hand accounts with anyone who listens.

Eight decades later though, the attack, still somewhat shocking.

“I just couldn’t believe that they could do that and get away with it so well,” Batterson said.

Batterson often compares December 7, 1941 to September 11, 2001. He also believes that if people don't start coming together as a nation, the U.S. leaves itself vulnerable to another attack.

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