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First Coast veteran remembers Pearl Harbor Day

Mayport Fleet Reserve Center ceremony honors veterans

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MAYPORT, Fla. – It is a day that will forever be remembered as one of history’s greatest infamies, Pearl Harbor Day.

The Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, forced the United States into joining World War II. The attack killed more than 2,000 U.S. sailors, marines and soldiers that day and injured thousands more.

The Mayport Fleet Reserve Center held a ceremony Monday honoring those who gave their lives 74 years ago.

Robert Beaudreau, a 97-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy chief, was at the ceremony and remembers all too well the events of Pearl Harbor Day.

“I remember every minute of it and it’s unforgettable,” said Beaudreau. “When the captain of the ship gave the signal to abandon the ship, I went out in the firestorm of all those bullets fired by the Japanese.”

Beaudreau who was 22 years old at the time of the attack reflected on life in the Navy back then.

“It was a different Navy in those days,” Beaudreau said. “It was a peacetime Navy and it became a war Navy overnight.”

As one of the few surviving sailors, Beaudreau says there’s not a day that goes by without him thinking about the attack that killed his friends and more than 2,000 others.

“All the people that had fought in the service were dedicated people and I was glad to be a part of it,” said Beaudreau.

Beaudreau said he does not understand the war that’s going on now, but he’s sure the nation will survive.