Ted Borucki has seen a lot in his 87 years, but the gruff World War II vet TMs eyes well up with tears when I ask him why he came here to Pearl Harbor.
Because somebody has to remember those who died here, he says.
Borucki can never forget the attack on Pearl Harbor because he was there almost 68 years ago. Back then Boruki was a young sailor serving onboard the USS Helena. He remembers running up to the ship TMs deck that Sunday morning just in time to see a plane passing directly overhead. When he saw a red sun painted on the plane TMs wing, Boruki says he knew it was a Japanese torpedo bomber and that they were in trouble. Seconds later a massive explosion rocked the ship.
The torpedo hit just to the left of where I had been below deck he says. If it had hit the ship 30 seconds sooner I wouldn TMt be standing here.
33 men onboard the USS Helena were not so fortunate. They were killed in action joining the more than 2,400 sailors, soldiers, marines and civilians who lost their lives in the surprise attack.
Almost half of those killed were onboard the USS Arizona. Early in the attack the ship took a direct hit to its ammunition magazine and sunk in less than nine minutes. The Arizona still lies at the bottom of the harbor and to this day the bodies of most of the sailors who went down with the ship have never been removed.
Those sailors and the others killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor are remembered every December 7th. The ceremony takes place on a pier overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial. Long before the attacks of 9/11, the Arizona Memorial served as a reminder to Americans that the freedoms we enjoy today come with a heavy price tag.
Ted Borucki knows that price tag all too well. His only brother was killed fighting in the war. Though Borucki survived, he says one memory from the attack on Pearl Harbor has stayed with him all of these years.
I remember our ship's Chaplain, Father Murphy, giving last rites to men as they lay dying on the deck of the ship.
President Franklin Roosevelt called the attack on Pearl Harbor A day that will live in infamy. With most Pearl Harbor survivors now in their 80s and 90s, one can TMt help but wonder what will happen when they are all gone. Who than will be left to remind us of the simple but often forgotten truth that freedom is never free?