Brazil, IN - Tom Hill says he's one of the lucky ones. On this day in 1941, he was serving on the gunboat USS Sacramento docked at Pearl Harbor. He survived the Japanese attack on the port and went on to serve more than five years in the Navy.
These days, Hill and his wife live at Towne Parke Assisted Living in Brazil. Today, officials, family and friends gathered at the facility to honor Hill.
He says he was eating breakfast when the invasion started, and at first thought it was a drill. He quickly learned the threat was real, and said all his shipmates took up arms to fight back. "We did the best we could with what we had. That's all we could do," said Hill.
Just 18 years old at the time of attack, Hill served with distinction, and left the Navy with a rank of Quartermaster First Class.
There is a lot interest in the Pearl Harbor survivors. But according to wife Vi Hill, that wasn't always the case. "The strange thing was when they came back from the war, the public was told, don't ask anything, if they want to talk about okay. Well when they came back from the war and they're sitting there at home wondering, how come they don't ask me something."
After the war, Tom Hill returned to Pearl Harbor just one time, in 1991 for the 50th anniversary of the attack.