Exhibit looks at 75h anniversary of Pearl Harbor through different eyes

KING 5's Eric Wilkinson reports.

OAK HARBOR, Wash. -- The front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin announcing "WAR" against Japan hangs on the wall of the PBY Naval Air Museum in Oak Harbor. It conjures childhood memories for Pauline Williams.

"My sister and twin brother and I had just sat down to read the funnies and eat breakfast," she said. "The landlord came running in saying someone was bombing Pearl Harbor."

Pauline ran to the front porch. She saw skies filled with Japanese airplanes dive bombing American ships -- a surreal sight to a girl who was just six years old.

"We could see smoke and hear the bombs bursting. There was fire. We could see planes with guns."

As Pauline's mother rushed her children inside they saw a Japanese war plane heading straight for their house, barely above the telephone poles.

The pilot was close enough for Pauline to actually look into the eyes of the enemy.

"He was wearing goggles and had a big smile," she says. "He was jubilant because he had done what he had come to do."

Pauline's dad should've been in the harbor December 7, but his ship had done poorly in a training exercise the day before. The captain ordered the crew to stay out to sea one more day, but Pauline's family didn't know that.

"As it turned out, that probably saved his life," said Pauline. "He went straight to war. We had to wait two or three weeks to find out if he was okay."

Pauline's story is one of 30 now on display at the PBY Naval Air Museum. With so few Pearl Harbor survivors remaining, the museum is showcasing a new point of view: witnesses to the attack.

"We realized there is a whole new generation with their own stories to tell," said Wil Shellenberger, president of the PBY Memorial Foundation.

Pauline's dad went on to fight and see victory in World War II. With him and so many more survivors now gone, Pauline says she is proud to honor their memories by sharing hers.

"It's part of our country's history that needs to be remembered."

The exhibit opens next week at PBY Naval Air Museum in Oak Harbor. For more information call 360-240-9500.

 

 

Copyright 2016 KING


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