DANIEL CARSON/News Herald/12-06-2010
PANAMA CITY -- When Ronnie Everitt and Steve Rula meet on the second Thursday of each month for lunch, Pearl Harbor rarely comes up in conversation.

That doesn't mean the two Bay County men don't remember what happened on Dec. 7, 1941 -- as they were both stationed in Hawaii and witnessed the infamous Japanese attack that killed more than 2,400 Americans and sank or damaged numerous U.S. battleships and destroyers.

"The only way you forget that is when you pass away," Everitt, 91, said on Nov. 30 from his room at Springfield's Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Nursing Home.

The two men talked about their experiences as Pearl Harbor survivors with the News Herald ahead of today's 69th anniversary of the attack.
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Pearl Harbor: Before and Beyond
The Eyewitness Account of Steve Rula


EXCERPT--On the morning of December 7th I had the message center shift from midnight to 8:00 A.M. The shift was routine and very quiet. My relief arrived early and after a few minutes suggested that I go to breakfast. I left about 7:40 A.M., went by my tent to pick up my mess kit and on to the kitchen area. A line had already formed and I took my place at the tail end. We were chit-chatting when one of the men commented on the anti-aircraft shells that were exploding over Pearl Harbor. He said: "It looks as if the Navy is having anti-aircraft practice early this morning." The comment caused no unusual interest because the Navy did have periodic practice with anti-aircraft weapons. Our concern and interest was aroused when Sgt. Earl T. Girk, who had served a number of years in the Field Artillery, exclaimed: "Practice Hell! They are firing with live ammunition. Practice shots have white smoke and those are black!" We could see the sky over Pearl Harbor was full of puffs of black smoke from the exploding shells, and more of them were appearing all the time. At that moment we began hearing a faint thump-thump-thump that grew louder and louder as it seemed to be rapidly approaching us. We did not have to be told to hit the dirt. It was done instinctively. What we had heard was a defective anti-aircraft shell. It passed over our heads and went into the woods a few hundred yards beyond us and exploded. Everything seemed to be happening so fast it was difficult to get an idea of just what was happening. Our Company Commander, Captain John F. Dunlop, had left some minutes earlier on a journey to Schofield Barracks. He came speeding back into camp and as soon as his car stopped he announced that Pearl Harbor was being bombed and that we were being attacked by the Japanese.

Steve Rula was the second of five children born into a coal mining camp in Earling, West Virginia. Times were rough. Steve lied about his age and joined the army when he was 16. His unique experiences reveal what it was like to fight a man’s war. This novel is a factual, eye-witness account of the U.S. involvement in the Pacific Theater. This book is surprisingly non-judgemental....

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