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Pearl Harbor survivors honored at meal in Henderson Sunday (VIDEO)

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HENDERSON — On the day more than 70 years ago that President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed “will live in infamy,” Syracuse resident Edward W. Stone said, he had a guardian angel protecting him at Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Stone, at the time a radioman 3rd class, had started a four-hour radio shift on the ammunition ship USS Pyro about 8 a.m. when the sailor he had just relieved rushed back to their station. A Japanese plane, which he said was no higher than 100 feet above the water, was attacking the harbor’s ships with torpedoes.

During the attack, a Japanese bomb missed Mr. Stone’s ship by about 12 feet. The bomb, which went through a 6-foot concrete dock before exploding, rocked the USS Pyro, temporarily knocking out its power.

Ordered to hand-start a generator on the ship’s deck to power its radio systems, Mr. Stone started the four-cylinder engine on the first crank, when it usually took three or four to get it going. As he ran back to his station, a superior officer later told him a low-flying Japanese plane had him right in its sights, strafing just steps behind him as he made it to cover.

“I guess it was luck,” Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Stone, 90, was one of two Pearl Harbor survivors honored Sunday morning with a formal meal at Alexander Corners General Store, Route 3. Lawrence C. Parry, 93, Baldwinsville, was the second honoree. The two are members of the regional chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Also recognized during the meal was World War II veteran Kenneth M. Browning, of Henderson.

The anniversary of the World War II battle, which took place Dec. 7, 1941, was marked a little early at the suggestion of the veterans, as traveling later this year would mean driving through inclement weather. A celebration is held on the anniversary at the American Legion post in Camden.

Gary L. Rhodes, who owns the general store and Rhodes Greenhouse, said he has held an annual dinner when possible since 2004.

“We try never to pass on an opportunity to thank them,” he said.

The greenhouse site also hosts a World War II and Pearl Harbor memorial. Among the displays presented at the store were news clippings about Henderson native George E. Phelps, who died during the battle while serving on the USS Arizona.

Mr. Rhodes said each year the number of Pearl Harbor survivors has dwindled, and this year he has been to three funerals for such veterans.

“We used to have quite the crew here,” he said. “We’re grateful to have who we have.”

Mr. Parry, who served near Honolulu Harbor, said he was knocked down on the first play of a football game against a nearby unit when he first saw a Japanese plane slowly go over him.

“It almost looked like you could run faster than them,” he said.

His unit was not able to help defend the Hawaiian island that day, as its weapons and ammunition were locked up that Sunday morning, and the soldier with the keys could not be found. Mr. Parry said he was not able to see the damage until two days later, when he took an unplanned detour to a vantage point looking over the harbor.

“You’ve never seen such a mess in your life,” he said, wiping tears from his face. “Cars still burning, trucks still burning, buildings blown up.”

The importance of serving at that time has grown over time for Mr. Parry. When he was in his 40s and 50s, he said, the day “did not mean a lot to me.”

“As time goes by, I think of all my buddies in the service,” he said. “I miss them.”

Hear from Mr. Stone and Mr. Parry at http://wdt.me/Pearl-Harbor.

Pearl Harbor survivors honored Sunday
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