TAMPA (FOX 13) - Hundreds of people, many veterans, raised their voices in harmony to sing Happy Birthday to William "Wild Bill" Monfort. He accomplished something many of us will not. He is turning 100 soon, and he is also a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The honor took place at the Armed Forces History Museum as part of a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack. It became known as the day that went down in infamy.
Monfort was on a ship on its way to the Island of Midway when the bombs began dropping
It took his ship two days to get back to port. When he arrived, it was not the same place he had left.
"I saw the ships, some of them sitting on the bottom, some of them capsized," He told FOX 13. "There was oil still coming out, still burning on the bottom."
Twenty-four hundred Americans were killed that day.
"It makes you mad," said Monfort, "determined to stop it."
Instead, the attack led to World War II , which did not end for another four years.
Monfort is a member of quickly shrinking fraternity. Experts say there are fewer than 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors left.
"This is our opportunity to gather information, to ask questions. They are gems. There are fewer and fewer as each day goes on," said Cindy Dion, Executive Director of the Armed Forces History Museum.
Monfort and other survivors are a piece of history that will soon be gone. The fate of the museum looks bleak as well. Recently, Dion announced that it will close at the end of January because of financial problems.
Military Historian Mike Eversole, a docent at the museum, says if no one steps in and bails the museum out, children are going to be the biggest losers.
"Because they are not going to get this education anywhere else, like they can get it here," Eversole said.
It appears that what happened on Pearl Harbor Day at the museum this year may never happen again.
Monfort and other survivors gathering in a place that may soon be ancient history itself.