Pearl Harbor survivor honored in Cleveland

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – This is the 76th annual observance of the Attack on Pearl Harbor that pulled the U.S. into World War II.

There are few veterans still around after all those years, but one of them lives in Bradley County, and he was honored this morning at the annual Pearl Harbor Day observance in Cleveland.

Most Americans only know about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 from films.

It probably doesn’t capture the total picture of confusion, fear and bloodshed that took the lives of 2,403 American servicemen.

A memorial ceremony in Cleveland today recalled those events.

Pearl Harbor survivors are at least 95 and a half years old, so there aren’t many left.

George Allen of Bradley County is the last surviving Pearl Harbor veteran on the east coast. He was a machine gunner, who was on KP that day, sitting on a short stool, peeling potatoes.

Allen said, “I thought the Canadian geese were coming back to America because they were flying beautiful shape, it was Jap bombers. And at the time I finished speaking and telling him and look around you know back to our job, a Jap zero comes around the building and let’s go a burst, and hits just over our heads. He hit about six foot over our head because we were sitting on those one foot stools.”

But the pilot of the zero made another pass.

“Second time he comes around, he’s got his arm out on his cockpit, the canopy pulled back and he goes like this as he goes by us, I don’t know whether he was saying, ‘I missed you, I’ll get you next time’, but we could see him though, his goggles looking out over like that, because he was, his plane was….. his lower wing was about where the top of the flag is there and the top wing was about the ball and you could see him very clearly.”

Allen spent 50 years after the war as a professional musician.

He explains how it felt to be honored today.

“Well, I’d rather wish someone was here with me, (laughs), some of the guys, you know.”

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