It happened 77 years ago, and marked the beginning of our country’s involvement in World War II.
Gerhard, “Gerry” Tank was too young to enlist when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but he still remembers that day 77 years ago, and how it drove him to serve our country.
“The sergeant got up on the stage,” Tank said, “and he said, ‘all military personnel report to your headquarters, we’ve been attacked.'”
A flood of memories and emotions filled Gerry Tank’s mind.
“I think what everybody else said just ‘oh my gosh,’ he said.” The 92-year-old was 15 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
An immigrant from Germany, Tank was in a movie theater when they announced the attack. The news, would change his life forever.
“I think had I’d been of age, I would have gone down and registered for the draft at that time,” he said.
He said nearly 48 hours went by before any more news was announced, vividly remembering president Roosevelt coming on the radio.
“The main thing that I remember was his statement, ‘this day will live in infamy,’ and then indicated a state of war now exists between the United States, Germany and Japan.”
On the day of his 18th birthday, Tank donated a unit of blood and enlisted for service.
“On July 6th 1944, I was at a train station and instead of going 90 miles to Great Lakes, Illinois, I went to Farragut Idaho 1900 miles away,” he said.
Three years after Pearl Harbor, he would serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“I remember the day I cried when the war in Europe ended, and Roosevelt had died and never saw,” he said.
Now 77 years later, Tank says his service has brought him huge rewards over the years.
Tank said, “I always think…that what I got out of the service is on the backs of the dead.”
And that he’s just as patriotic today, as he was in 1941.
“It’s something that’s in you, you just feel it.”
Tank says one of his favorite memories was getting to go on the Southern Oregon Honor Flight this past September, and getting to honor his fellow veterans at the memorials.
Nicole Costantino is a reporter and weather forecaster for NBC5 News. She comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also received a minor in Meteorology.
Before coming to NBC5 News Nicole was an anchor, weather forecaster and reporter at KAET in Phoenix, AZ. In college, she interned for CBS Evening News in New York City and the NBC4 Investigative Team in Los Angeles.
In her free time, you can find Nicole cheering on her Sun Devils and exploring the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to send story ideas and chocolate chip cookie recipes to her on Facebook (@NicoleCostantino) or Twitter (@NicCostantino).