Pearl Harbor Survivor Talks About His Experience - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Pearl Harbor Survivor Talks About His Experience

 By: Jason Rantala


Seventy-two years ago Saturday was a day Americans will never forget.

Now it's a day where we remember the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the effect it had on the country as a whole.

It was December 7th 1941, when more than 2,400 Americans died as a result of the attacks on America's naval base in Hawaii.

Iowans gathered to remember the fallen, the survivors and their families.

Survivors like 92-year-old Leland Lester, who was in Hawaii the day of the attacks.

Lester was working as a cook on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania that day, when all of a sudden, he saw the unmistakable planes, and their resulting destruction.

"The bombs came down about two compartments over from where I was walking," said Lester.

For more than 50 years, he would never talk about that day.

That was the case until 20 years ago. Now he talks to schools and shares his story.

"I feel great I can do this, that I can be able to talk to people and tell them what's going on."

Leland Lester and Clarence Pfundheller made up the two survivors on hand Saturday, where the Governor's proclamation was read and a wreath was laid, honoring all of those effected by the tragic day.

"This is something we never want to happen again. War is terrible," said Linda Quigley, President of the Iowa Chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors for Sons and Daughters.

It's a memory that will be etched into Lester's head for the rest of his life.

"I saw too many shipmates fly down the plank into the ocean, never to see their loved ones again. When they play Taps I think about that," said Lester.

Memories Lester has now shared with countless people.

"Everybody should know exactly what did happen, what started World War II."

"It's very sad, but on the other hand I'm very proud of my dad and Clarence and all the other men and women that have given their lives for our country," said Lester's daughter, Fredena Pion.

Along with sharing his story, Lester says he's also written a book about his life story, which is currently being proofread.

He also says if he could live his life all over again, he wouldn't change a thing.

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