Rome native Syl Puccio survived Pearl Harbor. As he looks back 70 years later, he says the tragic memories haven't faded.
"I could see the rising sun on the wing, and I ran down and yelled into the ship 'the Japanese are attacking,' " said Puccio. "Once the torpedo hit, we acted automatically. I can say one thing, my shipmates were brave."
December 7th, 1941, Puccio was 19 years old and on board the U.S.S West Virginia. Puccio says his ship was hit with 9 torpedos that day as the Japanese hit the U.S with a surprise attack. Docked not far away, was the U.S.S. New Orleans. Leo Cross was on board and it was his job to defend the ship as planes flying overhead dropped bombs. "I was going for the gun, that was my job, that's what I was going to do. You only had a second or two, so really you just kept firing," he said.
The attack killed more than 2,400 people. Today, the Pearl Harbor Association of Central New York paused to remember that day which forever changed our history and pulled the U.S. into World War II.
Seven decades later, just a handful of these local Pearl Harbor veterans remain. The CNY chapter started with about 150 members. "It's sad. I just hope that everyone will not forget and remember Pearl Harbor. These men gave us our freedom," said Kathy Schwarz, her father was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"I hurt when I think of that day and my shipmates, friends, that didn't make it that day," said Puccio.
And as veterans salute the brave men that never made it home, they hope their stories of sacrifice live on. As we continue remember that infamous day which those veterans can never forget.