Some war veterans reminded of Pearl Harbor, but call latest attacks much worse

Wednesday, September 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DANVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ Sparky Songer fought in World War II, again in the Korean War and yet again in Vietnam.

Yet Tuesday's tragedy was not something he could face. Leaning over the bar at the American Legion, Songer had tears in his eyes. ``Watching this just made me sick to my stomach. You could call it what you want. I'm calling it World War III.''

He summed up the emotions of many veterans in this town near the Illinois-Indiana line _ and across the country _ who reacted with anger and sorrow over the loss of life in New York and Washington.

``I saw the results at Pearl Harbor, and this made that look like a high school picnic,'' said Harlan Hosch, 80, who survived that attack. ``It's an act of war in my opinion. If they'd let me, I'd sign up to fight again.''

The Danville American Legion, its wood-paneled walls filled Tuesday evening with somber faces, is a weekly gathering spot in this community of 31,000.

Most veterans agreed the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon reminded them most of the 1941 Japanese attack on U.S. warships in Hawaii.

But veterans made a clear distinction between the two surprise assaults. Soldiers expect to be attacked, civilians don't.

``This is worse than Pearl Harbor ever was because that was our job, to be put in harm's way,'' said Bob Montgomery, 72, who was an airman during World War II.