Survivor Shares His Story From Day Of Infamy

Friday, December 7th 2007, 9:39 pm
By: News On 6

It's the anniversary of the day that lives in infamy. With each passing year, we lose more Pearl Harbor veterans. News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports for some, the day would be their last. For others, like 84-year-old Arles Cole it was the first day of what would be a very long war.

Arles Cole spent almost four years at sea during World War II. But, his most vivid memories are from the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor.

"A Japanese plane banked over the West Virginia. You saw that big red ball on the wing. We knew immediately we were under attack by Japanese planes,” said Pearl Harbor survivor Arles Cole. "There are 86 ships in the harbor, but the principal targets seem to be these great battleships."

Cole's position on the West Virginia was four decks below the main deck. He says at one point, that’s where he was trapped.

"When the torpedoes began to hit I saw oil and water coming in down that long passage way. Just pouring in," said Arles Cole.

He managed to escape by squeezing through a hole to the next deck. There he says he picked up a wounded soldier and carried him up three ladders to the main deck.

"I looked back and the Arizona had blown up. And, fire everywhere, all on the water and all around,” said Arles Cole.

What he didn't see was an American flag. Cole said it was his duty to find one and fly it for everyone to see. He did.

"Some of the sailors on other ships saw that flag and they said that it was an encouragement to them so it gives me good feeling that I had a part in putting that up there,” said Arles Cole.

That was the first day of a long war for Arles Cole, but he survived to tell his story.

"People used to say Arles; God must have his hand on you. He wants you to do something. I said, yeah, I know it. But I didn't know what it is. But, I found it about 20 years ago when I started going around to schools talking to kids about the importance of being alert in our country,” said Arles Cole.

Watch the video: WWII Vet Recalls Day Of Infamy