Vt. WWII veteran, 93, reflects on Pearl Harbor anniversary

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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) The anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor hits close to home for World War II veterans.

Leonard Jacobs

Leonard Jacobs remembers where he was 76 years ago.

"We were in school and one of the guys came over and said, 'Boy, maybe we'll get a chance to get in the service,'" said Jacobs.

It was the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the U.S. into World War II. The White River Junction man was finishing up Hartford High School.

He says his friends used to sing about joining the Air Force. "I just want to fly over Germany. That's why I joined this war," Jacobs sang.

But Jacobs tells us he couldn't get into the Air Force because he wore glasses, so he became a diesel mechanic in the Navy.

The now 93-year-old reflected on the historic anniversary of Pearl Harbor with his wife, Jacqueline.

"I remember Pearl Harbor," said Jacqueline Jacobs. "At that time then, there were blackouts. It was quite different than things are now."

Veterans Affairs says more than 16 million Americans served in World War II. Some 558,000 of those veterans are alive today and more than 1,400 of them are in Vermont.

Jacobs tells us war was terrifying.

"I was scared to death. I was so scared that my heart was beating for five days," said Jacobs.

But there were also moments of awe: Jacobs recalls seeing the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima from a ship close to shore.

When the war ended he came back to the Green Mountain State.

"I knew Jackie all my life, I decided to marry her," said Jacobs.

"He was saving money to build a home," said Jacqueline Jacobs. "He wasn't going to get married until he built a home."

The couple, married 68 years, has gone all over the country, sharing stories and experiences with other veterans.

"Traveled several places in the country going to these reunions. New Orleans -- places I never would go," said Jacqueline Jacobs.

Thursday was a day to show respect for the friends they lost and to cherish those they’ve gained.