Pearl Harbor Attacks Remembered in Bangor
Seventy years ago the Japanese launched their attack, bringing the United States into World War II. The surprise military attack at Pearl Harbor damaged 8 U.S. battleships and killed more than 2,000 Americans. In Bangor, people gathered to remember the event, including a man who was in the Navy during the attacks. Robert Coles considers himself a lucky man. ” My luck started in December 21, 1923 when I was born. I was born in the United States of America,” said Coles with a smile. Two weeks before his 18th birthday, Coles, like so many others, shipped out to Pearl Harbor with the Navy. ” I was a seaman apprentice. Next to the bottom of the heap,” explained Coles. Being low man on the totem pole proved lucky once again. ” The torpedo planes that went by, they were ignoring the little old destroyers and they were going after the battleships. That’s the best time in your life to be ignored, when people are trying to kill you,” said Coles. Each year veterans get together on the bridge over the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor to remember what happened on December 7, 1941. ” Gosh, that was the greatest generation this nation has given and it’s a generation that we’re fast losing,” said Major General Bill Libby. Major General Libby takes it personally, he’s the son of a World War II vet. ” It was that generation quite frankly, listening to their stories, that was my call to service,” said Libby. More than 2,400 people were killed during the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Lucky for Coles, he wasn’t one of them. ” It happened around me, it didn’t happen to me,” said Coles. ” The only blood I saw during World War II out in the Pacific is when I nicked myself shaving.”It’s not just older veterans who are taking the time to remember the tragedy. ” It’s our responsibility to remember all veterans from all the wars,” said Larry Holland, Jr. Vice Commander of VFW 1761 in Bangor. Seventy years after the attacks, Coles luck is still going strong. ” At age 88, I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be anywhere above ground,” said Coles. He says he’ll be back in Bangor next year, joining his fellow veterans, if his luck holds out.Bangor native, Willard Carelton Orr, was the only Maine resident killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. There’s a plaque honoring him on the footbridge over the Kenduskeag Stream.