Pearl Harbor survivor recalls surprise attack

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 2:53pm
By: John Munford

Pearl Harbor day 2009

Robert Pittman of Newnan shared his remembrances of the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor before a rapt crowd today in Peachtree City.

Pittman, 91, was stationed at nearby Schofield Barracks as part of an anti-aircraft unit that aimed “flak” at enemy aircraft. Much of the unit was away on a training mission, leaving Pittman and his Schofield infantry pals to fend off Japanese fighters with the only artillery they had: guns leftover from World War I.

One fighter dropped a bomb nearby but fortunately “it landed on soft ground,” limiting its damage, Pittman said.

Pittman said he later heard that American forces shot down 37 planes during the attack that sparked America’s involvement in WWII, as 2,402 personnel were killed while another 1,282 were wounded.

Pittman’s remarks came during a Pearl Harbor remembrance day ceremony hosted by the Commemorative Air Force, a volunteer group that keeps WWII era warcraft flying. Today marked the 68th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack.

Pittman recalled he didn’t want to serve in the military because he had just gotten a job that paid $14 a week and a new car that cost him $16 a month.

Pittman had to leave both behind and after the immediate fallout from the attack on Pearl Harbor, he continued to serve in his anti aircraft unit in WWII in the asian theater of war. Pittman’s unit was fortunate enough to not have any casualties from Japanese attacks, he said.

The anti aircraft unit shot 50-pound projectiles at enemy planes creating what many refer to as “flak” in an attempt to bring them down, Pittman said.

One night, American anti aircraft units shot down 23 planes during a robust Japanese attack, Pittman noted. That attack came the night before Thanksgiving, he added.

After peace was declared, Pittman had to wait with 5,000 other troops to be brought back home. He waited two months, but as he said “everything worked out.”

Back stateside, Pittman ultimately got on with a fire department, making his way up the ranks before retiring as a battalion chief.

Pittman and fellow Pearl Harbor survivor Roy Mooney placed a memorial wreath at the end of the ceremony, which culminated with a flyover, a bell ringing and a moving rendition of Taps.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
DENiebes's picture
Submitted by DENiebes on Tue, 12/08/2009 - 1:01pm.

Wonderful job by the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force at their Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. Second year they have sponsored this community event and a respectable turnout of veterans, citizens and young people. Well done!
Humbling to be in the company of these true American heroes, the vets of World War II.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.