Local survivor of U.S.S. Arizona remembers Pearl Harbor attack - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local survivor of U.S.S. Arizona remembers Pearl Harbor attack

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) It was a day of infamy. Sunday, December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The attack damaged or destroyed more than a dozen ships, including the U.S.S. Arizona. The U.S.S. Arizona website says there are only 24 known living survivors who were on board the ship that infamous day.

One of those survivors is 86-year-old Edward Welter.  Welter joined the U.S. Navy in 1940 at age 18. He was a Seaman First Class.

Now, he spends his days at the Cedar Falls Health Care Center. He remembers Pearl Harbor and willingly shares his story.

"Well, it' just one of those things that happened," said Welter. 

December 7, 1941 Welter was on board the U.S.S. Arizona when he heard warning sirens sound.

"You could see the planes going over with the meatball painted on the side," he said. 

Welter remembers bombs hitting the ship. Right about where ammunition was stored.

"When the bomb bounced off a number four turret and exploded when it hit the wooden deck and the side of my face and arms and my legs were full of wood splinters," said Welter.

Besides throwing splinters into his body, both of Welter's eardrums burst from the noise.

"Both ears were bleeding," he said.

During all the chaos, Welter remembers seeing people burned ... dying. Then he heard a command to abandon ship. Welter found his way down a ladder and into a boat that took him to the officer's landing. From there, he says he took a truck to the sick bay where he stayed until he was told to report again.

After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Welter stayed in the U.S. Navy. He was re-assigned to the mess hall and started making a life for himself, marrying a native Hawaiian woman.

Welter said nowadays even he doesn't think too much about the attack on Pearl Harbor, but he hopes people don't forget that day of infamy.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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