CHARLES CITY, Iowa - President Franklin Roosevelt called this 'a day that will live in infamy.'
79 years ago Monday, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,400 U.S. military members and launching our nation into World War II. Now, a Charles City man is sharing what his father experienced overseas.
Ralph Smith's father James just got into college, and would join the officer corps. After being trained on the East Coast, he would be shipped to the West Coast through Pearl Harbor to fight in the battle of Iwo Jima. A lieutenant, he was on a ship that was in charge of clearing beaches for Marines, and even saw the raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. The ship he was on was attacked by kamikaze planes, and received a Presidential citation for the losses sustained.
Ralph says December 7 will always be an emotional day for his dad.
"It brought back memories of those years. We talk now about COVID and how terrible it is and what a crisis it is, but compare that to what these kids went through. They were kids when they were fighting this war."
When Ralph was younger, he says his dad didn't talk much about his time in the service, but began to open up as he got older, and shared what an experience it was for young men and women who fought for our country across the world.
"You talk to young people now, a lot of them have been all over the country, to Europe, to Asia. Back in those days, those kids may not have been very far out of their hometown, so to ship over to Asia or Europe, this was a completely new experience for them."
Ralph's uncle also served in the war, but fought in the European campaign.