Adone Calderone talks about being at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack Dec. 7, 1941.
Adone “Cal” Calderone, of Jackson Township, remembers Pearl Harbor only too well.
“Pearl Harbor changed the world,” said the survivor. “It was the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire. We destroyed the Japanese and I was the happiest guy alive. When they dropped the atomic bomb, I was even happier.”
Calderone was one of the speakers Friday afternoon at the American Legion Post 44, honoring the veterans of World War II and Pearl Harbor.
“Pearl Harbor veterans are fast becoming extinct,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Greater Canton Veterans Council, which sponsored the event. “Even though we don’t have a lot of survivors left, it is important to remember them.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor devastated the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. Calderone was on the USS West Virginia battleship that fateful day.
“There are thousands of stories about Pearl Harbor. We were hit by eight torpedoes and four bombs,” he said. “We lost about 120 people that day. The Arizona was right on our stern and it lost about 1,100. That day 2,400 people were killed within a couple hours.”
There aren’t too many Pearl Harbor veterans left, said Calderone, 92.
“By 2020, there won’t be any. I lost many good friends over there. I do this in their honor. The audiences I talk to, all know what happened that day. My story is what happened after Pearl Harbor.”
He said that the ships that damaged during the attack were rebuilt and returned to the war.
“In 1944, they had the Battle of Philippines. The Japanese had a plan called Sho. There were six parts of that program,” he said. “They were going to attack from different positions. One was in the south. They had two battleships down there, and they were coming through the Straights at 2:30 in the morning.”
He said when they arrived, the ships of Pearl Harbor met the Japanese battle ships and destroyed them, he said. “That stopped the invasion. That day was my revenge of Pearl Harbor.”