A Jackson Township man who survived Pearl Harbor while serving in the U.S. Navy 72 years ago spoke Saturday at an annual ceremony commemorating the attack.
Gas was 15 cent a gallon and a loaf of bread cost 8 cents when Adone "Cal" Calderone was chief petty officer aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia.
Now 94 and living in Jackson Township, Calderone said he recalls "quite a bit" of what happened on Dec. 7, 1941.
"It was a day 'that will live in infamy,'" he said quoting then-Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt. "It was a bad day. Six battleships were hit pretty hard. We lost 2,400 men in 15 minutes. We had 1,300 wounded. We were hit with eight torpedoes and four bombs. Two dropped on our stern and one knocked our rudder off..."
The only Pearl Harbor survivor among them, Calderone spoke to a small group of people Saturday at the American Legion Post 44, 1633 Cleveland Ave. NW, as part of the annual ceremony commemorating the attack that ushered U.S. into the Pacific area during World War II. The ceremony included the Canton Legion Honor Guard's 21-gun salute outside the post.
A few members of two families of Pearl Harbor survivors also attended, including Jessica Miller, great-granddaughter of the late Harry Cross, who also survived Pearl Harbor. Mike Angelo, son of the late Bennie Angelo — another survivor who was killed his home seven years ago — was also attended.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Pudloski, who has served in the U.S. Navy for more than 21 years and continues to serve, also spoke to the group. Pudloski is currently assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet out of Pearl Harbor — the place Calderone, Cross and Angelo were serving when the Japanese attacked 72 years ago.
Pudloski recounted the events of history, listing numbers of the cruisers, destroyers and ships that were hit among the numbers of dead and wounded.
Then he pointed to Calderone.
"Without him," he told the group, "we wouldn't have the freedoms we have today. ...This man and those like him are the only reason we are here today."
And while their numbers are dwindling with age as time passes and those who served pass away, those who remain continue to remember and to share what happened.
Calderone recalls that "all those ships that were hit were repaired, except for the Arizona and the Oklahoma. They all went back into the war and they destroyed the Japanese Southern Fleet in the Phillipines."
In 1943, he said, "We started invading those (Pacific) islands and every island was our D-Day. It was absolutely horrible, but we had to do it."
Calderone proudly recounted how the U.S.S. West Virginia earned five battle stars.
And he noted how scores of young men and women are continuing to fight battles in today's armed services.
"These young fellows are out there right now fighting for our freedom. But we have to fight all of these other battles to keep our freedom," he said.
Calderone also talked about the decision to drop the atomic bomb. The first dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945. The second, three days later over Nagasaki.
"The Japanese did not surrender: They died," he said. "Was it the right thing to do? Absolutely. It was a weapon and it stopped the war. God Bless America."
CORRECTION: The annual ceremony remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor was held Saturday at the American Legion Post 44 at 1633 Cleveland Ave. NW. The address was wrong in a story Sunday in the main News section, Page A-3.