By Dennis Smith - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Joseph Richard of Sunset, Louisiana, just wanted to find work. He found it in April 1941 in the U.S. Navy at the age of 16. Three months later he was in beautiful Hawaii enjoying the sunsets and happy hours. But the shipfitter's life aboard the ship tender, the U.S. Rigel would forever be changed.
In the span of less than an hour on December 7th Japanese warplanes attacked the island. America was now in the war
"Our ship got hit by a shrapnel bomb and we had a whale boat in front of it and they dropped a bomb that went between the 2 men and it didn't go off," says Richard. "You didn't get scared till the next day. They surprised us. The only damage that was done was done in 44 minutes. My other didn't hear from me for 3 months."
Over a thousand officers and men on the Arizona went down with their ship.
"We worked on the Arizona 1st," says Richard. "The same day, right after that we saved 33 people.
He continues, "There was people on the Arizona that was still knocking on Christmas day. And we couldn't do nothing about it. It was too dangerous to work on the ship. 2,000 on the ship."
The Navy veteran went on to spend 9 years in uniform.
"I came back, got married, 2 beautiful daughters, went into business and moved back home, and still in business," he explains. "You can never forget."
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