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Pearl Harbor 71st anniversary: an Elmwood WWII veteran talks about December 7th, 1941

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

ELMWOOD, Wis. (WEAU) -- Today marks the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

More than 2,000 lost their lives, and those who survived will remember it forever.

Ninety year old WII veteran Laird Reeve was stationed in Hawaii with the field artillery during the 1941 bombing. Seventy one years ago today his eyes watched the day that changed the course of history as we know it.

Reeves shared his first impression when the Japanese bombs landed in Pearl Harbor.

"It was real black with smoke where the bombs had dropped and exploded, and you can see the fire," said Reeves.

Sergeant Laird Reeves was stationed in Hawaii with the Army when Pearl Harbor got hit. Reeves said no one had any idea that it wasn't just another drill. That was the beginning of WWII.

"These Japanese planes came down, and I told my friend, they're just playing toy, they are just playing war. We saw a man walking down, and then we looked down and we saw the grass jumping, and that was machine guns. The plain was shooting and it killed this man."

That was the first time Reeves saw a man get shot. After the bombing his unit stayed in the dugouts in the forest for 13 weeks, not knowing exactly how many more people died that day.

"When we found out it was war we did what we supposed to do. We went to the North shore, and that's where our position was."

After 32 months of service in WWII Reeves was honorably discharged in 1945, with four Bronze Stars awarded for his service.

"I was proud to do it; I'd do it all over again,” said Reeves.

"It's an amazing thought that I can talk to someone who was there. I learned about that in school, my kids are learning about that in school, and they have talked to someone who was there! Our whole family is very proud of the service that Pa gave,” said Reeves’s great-granddaughter, Melissa Barfknecht.


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