Family Remembers WWII Veteran On 80th Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor

Tuesday, December 7th 2021, 4:58 pm

By: Erika Lee

On the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, News 9 remembers William Bonelli, a WWII veteran, an Oklahoman and one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors. Bonelli passed away earlier this year.  

It's been about half a year since Bonelli, one of the last known Pearl Harbor survivors, died. His daughter, Geralee Wood, remembers it like it was yesterday.

"There isn't a night that goes by that I don't dream of him," Wood said.

It's days like these that make her miss him more than ever. 

William, also known as Bill, Bonelli flew 29 combat missions in Europe during World War II and served 20 years with the Air Force before becoming an instructor for the FAA for 33 years.

He even laid eyes on the first Japanese fighter jets 80 years ago at Pearl Harbor before any bombs were dropped.

Wood remembered the day of her father's burial service, where she was given the honor of receiving her father's flag.

"We were grateful for the honor guard and grateful for the recognition that they gave him," Wood said. "It was solemn and befitting." 

While she's still heartbroken, she's glad he was able to celebrate his 100th birthday in March, and people still talk about him to this day.

"We can't change the loss of our loved ones," Wood said. "All we can do is cherish those memories and relive them in our hearts."


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