Dubuque WWII vets remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque WWII vets remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor

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WWII veterans Karl Wirzbach, Ken Evers and Verdus Burr eat lunch at Bethany Home in Dubuque. WWII veterans Karl Wirzbach, Ken Evers and Verdus Burr eat lunch at Bethany Home in Dubuque.

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- WWII vets at Bethany Home retirement center remember where they were when they heard the news of Pearl Harbor.

Air Force veteran and New Vienna native Al Mescher was at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. when he heard the news.

"I was on the second floor of our barracks in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and woke up to all the noise outside, and we learned the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor," he said. "I remember him saying, 'this is war.' I was 23 years old."

Mescher still wears his uniform every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. He said everything still fits, except for the shoes.

Not every WWII vet at Bethany Home was serving in 1941.

Army veteran and Arcadia native Ken Evers said he was working for the Iowa WPA in Des Moines at the time, when he heard the announcement about Pearl Harbor on the radio.

"I was drafted into the service in 1943, February, and discharged in 1945," Evers said. "I wanted to go to college, very desperately, and my dad, going through the Depression, couldn't afford to send me to college...When I was discharged, I immediately took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights and went to Drake University in Des Moines, with a major in accounting."

It was a major that became his career. And this fall, Evers joined other vets on the Dubuque Honor Flight, when he got to see the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. for the first time.

Navy veteran and Dubuque native Karl Wirzbach recalls the announcement.

"I was upstairs with my dad, helping him lay floor, we heard the news then," he said.

Many heard the news by radio - one that looks and sounds a little different than the modern radio sitting in Bethany Home's lobby.

"You get pictures of it on TV and all that jazz. We didn't have that at that time, see," Evers said, of modern media and the spread of the Pearl Harbor news.

Army veteran and Guttenberg native Verdus Burr keeps war mementos hanging on his wall. He got drafted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

A patriotic tree decorates the festive lobby of Bethany Home, and on its branches are red, white and blue ribbons decorated with the names of the US Armed Forces branches.

Though they grew up in different cities and went on to different careers, their time in service during WWII and their time at Bethany Home now ties these veterans together.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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