Monday, December 07, 2009

Pearl Harbor survivor back for 1st time

Ed Johann will always remember the sound of planes diving out of the sky to bomb U.S. battleships, the explosions and the screams of sailors. He still recalls the stench of burning oil and flesh.

The 86-year-old retired firefighter is due to return Monday to Pearl Harbor for the first time since World War II to attend a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack.

"I really don't know how I'm going to handle it," said Johann, from his home in Oregon. "When I think about it, all I have is unpleasantness. I'm sure it's not like that now."

Johann was a teenage apprentice seaman on Dec. 7, 1941. He had enlisted in the Navy only five months earlier so his parents, who picked and packed tomatoes and other crops in California's San Fernando Valley, wouldn't have to support him.

He and two other sailors were waiting to ferry passengers on a small boat to and from the USS Solace, a hospital ship that was moored in Pearl Harbor, when they saw the Japanese planes.

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