Photo by Matthew West
Young sailor Francis Connolly was waiting for a breakfast date with a nurse when the Japanese planes appeared over Pearl Harbor, 71 years ago today. Now 91, he'll never forget the face of the Japanese bombardier who flew past him at eye level moments before the explosions started.
"I watched all the planes come in. All of a sudden, they swooped down and started dropping torpedoes," said Connolly, who was then a 20-year-old sailor serving aboard USS St. Louis. "The guy in the rear seat smiled at us. Then all hell broke loose."
The anniversary of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called "a day that will live in infamy," on which more than 2,400 Americans were killed, will be marked today at the Charlestown Navy Yard with a memorial service on the World War II-vintage USS Cassin Young, named for Navy Cmdr. Cassin Young. Young was awarded the Medal of Honor after he was blown overboard by a blast, but climbed back on board his damaged ship USS Vestal to move it out of the way of other ships during the attack on Pearl Harbor
Local Pearl Harbor survivor holds no grudges
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Seventy-one years later, William Keith still remembers the "ray of light." Keith, then 19, was below decks on the Navy battleship USS West Virginia when Japanese bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He thought he was trapped and headed for death.