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Veterans recall attack that triggered U.S. involvement in World War II

It was an event that changed the course of American history and the lives of millions.
When the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, it thrust the United States into the middle of World War II. Congress declared war on Japan the next day.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place 71 years ago today, was a surprise strike. The death toll was considerable as 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 were wounded. All eight U.S. Navy battleships in the harbor were damaged – with four sunk.
The American people were as shocked about the attack as the American military. The ensuing U.S. involvement in World War II forced many young men to go to war and many people back home to make sacrifices.
Hubert Boyd was drafted two months after his 18th birthday in 1944.
“My birthday is in August,” said Boyd. “They didn’t call anybody in September, but they got me in October. They were looking for infantrymen, anybody who would go over there in the snow and ice without any place to sleep except a foxhole if you were lucky enough to dig one. It was rough on an 18-year-old boy.”
Boyd was twice wounded in combat. The first time came as he was trying to cross a river in France after Germans blew up the bridge. He was shot in the hip. He barely had time to recuperate from that injury when he was shot again in the right arm.
“If you could stand up and walk across the room on your own, you were sent back into combat,” Boyd said.
Boyd’s military service got off to a rocky start as his ship received a scare during its 10-day voyage to N. Africa.
“There were probably 4,000 or 5,000 of us on there,” said Boyd. “They made an announcement on our fifth night out for all of us to put on our life jackets and to prepare to abandon ship. We were getting chased by a German submarine. So they cut the engines and we sat in the dark for about a day before they gave us the OK to continue.”
Hugh Stubblefield was in high school at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. He said it had immediate repercussions.
“I remember it all happened so quick,” said Stubblefield. “Nobody had any idea it was coming. When it did, everything changed. People started going off to war and everything was rationed. Gas was rationed. Just about everything was. You weren’t allowed to buy everything you wanted.”
Stubblefield graduated high school from Irving College in 1942 and was in the U.S. Navy by January 1943 at 19 years old. He spent the next three years in the Pacific Theatre.
“I can’t tell you how many island we invaded,” said Stubblefield. “We’d get right up to the beech and start firing rockets, then the Marines would go in. The main threat to us was the suicide planes.”
A ceremony honoring World War II veterans was held Saturday at Regions Bank in conjunction with I’ll Be Home for Christmas festivities. About 20 World War II veterans were in attendance.
It was noted with sadness that five local World War II veterans had died since the previous gathering one year earlier. The program also featured songs from the Warren County High School choir and a speech of appreciation from retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn.

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