Pearl Harbor survivor visits local memorial

Derek Kuhn - Seguin Gazette
Derek Kuhn – Seguin Gazette

It was a date which will live in infamy. Shortly before 8 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. was attacked by Japan, and the battle was over before 10 a.m.

Though it happened almost 74 years ago, the attack still is fresh in many survivors’ memories, including 95-year-old U.S. Navy veteran John Buchanan.

“It was a thing of fear,” the former chief motor machinist’s mate said. “I didn’t know that Japan had its flag on its planes until that day.”

With those emotions and memories still with him, the former submariner toured the SS American Memorial, which is just south of Seguin, on Tuesday.

“It was fantastic,” John, who served for six years, said. “It makes you feel good, like it’s still wonderful to live in America.”

John’s wife, Lucille Buchanan, agreed saying the memorial was very touching.

“He’s pleased,” she said. “He probably won’t say anything about it, but it really means a lot to him.”

The SS American Memorial is a living tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives, limbs and years in service to the U.S., Craig Russell, co-creator of the memorial, said.

“It’s open to any veteran who wants to see it, especially someone like Mr. Buchanan who was a submariner,” Russell said. “Submariners actually started this place and having him come here was an honor.”

For the Floydada, Texas-native, the highlight of the day was finding his name on the tribute list.

“It means that somebody still remembers that I was there (World War II) and done that,” he said, adding that he’d go back and do it again tomorrow if he was asked.

John’s niece Sherry Wiatrek said the trip was very emotional and helped her uncle, who is still healing from the attack.

“For years, he wouldn’t talk about Pearl Harbor,” she said. “During the last five or so years, he has begun to talk about it.”

“It’s a release for him,” Sherry’s husband, Elvan Wiatrek, said. “It’s good for him, and other veterans, to see that they aren’t forgotten.”>> Read Full Article>>

Originally Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 8:16 am, Wed Nov 11, 2015.

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