Survivor: Pearl Harbor attack 'should never be forgotten'

- For most Americans too young to have been alive during World War II, the memories of the attacks on Pearl Harbor are limited to black-and-white recordings.

For George Kondas, however, December 7, 1941 stands out in his mind like it happened yesterday.

"I see it all the time in front of me, that day," he said following a ceremony Monday at Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa, marking the 74th anniversary of the attacks.

Kondas, then in his early-20's and a lineman first class in the Navy, stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Tracy -- a destroyer that was anchored alongside several battleships.

He and another sailor saw the incoming planes.

"After about 15 minutes he said, 'Look up there, George.' And I looked up and you could see some high-altitude bombers," Kondas said, recalling they both thought it was a training exercise. "We could see something coming down."

Kondas thought the planes were dropping flour sacks, often used during bomber target practice.

"In a few minutes, we knew they weren't flour sacks. They were bombs," he continued. "Bombs were dropping all over. Bullets were going, bombs were going off."

Japanese pilots attacked in two waves, sinking four battleships and damaging eight more.

"I could see the Arizona get hit. I saw the Oklahoma turn over," Kondas said, referring to two of the ships that sunk.

The attacks drew the United States into World War II. President Roosevelt called it a "day that will live in infamy."

Kondas, now 94 years old, sat in the front row Monday, listening to other current and retired military members spoke about how much the country owes the men and women who died that day.

"I cannot imagine that shock and chaos that gripped our country nearly 75 years ago," said U.S. Army Col. Bryan Denny. "The readiness of our soldiers, sailors, and Marines who defended against the Japanese then is absolutely resonant in the men and women who volunteer to protect our country today in the War on Terrorism."

Following the ceremony, many in attendance thanked Kondas for his service.

"It means an awful lot. I'm just thankful that I survived," he said. "It makes me feel proud. I was there and I'm  a survivor of it and I did my part and [did] what I could, so I feel proud of that."

Kondas would never ask for a thank you. He would much rather Americans never forget that day.

"A day in infamy that should never be forgotten. It should never be forgotten," he added.

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