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WHAS11 archives: Pearl Harbor vets see (2001) 'Pearl Harbor' film

by Joe Arnold


Posted on July 14, 2014 at 11:14 PM

**Editor's Note: This footage originally aired in 2001. The footage's audio has since experienced slight damage.**

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Louisville U.S. Navy Veterans who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 question historical details in a movie starring Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett as Army Air Corps pilots but hope it serves as a reminder of the "Day of Infamy's" place in American history.

"I think that everybody that sees that movie is going to realize that there was an attack on Pearl Harbor and it actually happened," said Jim Edwards, 78, a Navy veteran who was manning a 5-inch anti-aircraft gun aboard the USS New Orleans when the Japanese attacked.

WHAS11 invited several Pearl Harbor survivors in Louisville to watch a sneak preview of the film and share their impressions.

"Some things weren’t accurate, but I give them pretty good credit for what they did," said Lee Ebner, 82, a Navy veteran who was stationed on the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Louisville veterans questioned the accuracy of  Army Air Corps pilots being present for the attack.  The film's stars, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, portray Army Air Corps pilots.

"I didn't see any Army Air Force people at all out there," Edwards said.  "Well, there wasn't no Army out there, but it made it a good story."

Despite the film's $135 million price tag, the men who were there that fateful day questioned its accuracy depicting the Japanese attack.

"It was impossible, I believe, for the planes to fly as low as the movie indicated they did, because the way the ships were placed on Battleship Row, they were very close together. " said Sgt. Maj. Tom Crump, 80, a Navy veteran who was assigned to Navy Yard Police, Naval Intelligence and was standing guard on the dock next to the USS Pennsylvania, directly across from Battleship Row.

"And the planes I saw coming in were over and above the decks," Crump recalled, "had to be over and above the decks of the ships for the torpodeoes to be used."

"Some of the first planes that came over, I thought that, you know, they were Army planes," Ebner said.  "And, but then when I saw that red ball I knew it was Japanese."

The film managed to hit home with the veterans. Sixty-year-old memories rekindled.

“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” Crump admitted.  "Any time that I talk about Pearl Harbor, I become emotional."

Watching the movie Pearl Harbor gives a sense of what that day was like. Listening to these men's stories reminds us that it's not just a movie.

By sharing their stories, Louisville's Pearl Harbor veterans honor those that didn't survive the "Day of Infamy."

WHAS11 thanks them for sharing their stories and their service to our country.