CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) – Thousands of people went to Pearl Harbor Friday for the 71st anniversary of the bombing attack, holding a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m. when the bombing began.
For Pearl Harbor survivors, the sights, smells and sounds of that day were so vivid it’s almost as if it happened just yesterday. That’s exactly the case for a Citrus Heights veteran, whose experience forever shaped him and his country.
December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Bob Castle had only been in the navy for a year. He was just coming up from breakfast when he realized an attack was underway.
“I went down to the radio shack compartment, calling ‘the Japs are here, the Japs are here,’ ” he said.
Castle took his battle station, but then was brought up to keep the USS Tennessee from burning.
“When I came up topside, and went around turret two, I looked up and there was a Japanese plane coming between us and the Maryland, but he was close enough I could see him eye to eye,” said Castle.
As waves of Japanese attack planes kept on coming, Castle battled to keep the oil-fueled flames from the Arizona and the West Virginia from reaching his ship.
“So I went up there, and handed me a hose, and I was fighting fires on the number one casement on the West Virginia that was tied up right alongside us,” he said.
The West Virginia sank, losing dozens of sailors, while protecting the less damaged Tennessee. Now, this veteran protects the memory of all that was lost by sharing his stories and slides.
“When they see the battle ships all mangled up, they get an idea of what’s happened,” said Castle.
Castle, who’s now 92, has a message for people today: Honor Pearl Harbor by buying American-made goods.