BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where nearly 2,500 people were killed as Japanese planes bombed US ships in Hawaii. Forty-five of those victims were from Louisiana.
Dozens of people observed the anniversary by attending the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony aboard the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge. Among those in attendance was a survivor of the infamous attack.
As the bell tolled for each of the victims, several paused to think about the sacrifice of those brave men but for 93-year-old Joseph Richard, the day is personal. The Sunset, Louisiana native witnessed the bombing first hand from aboard the USS Rigel, a destroyer tenant in the water that December morning.
"I was eating grapes when I heard it bombing," Richard said. "I went topside and that's where I saw he planes with the that red bowl and I knew something was wrong."
The then-ship fitter first class said he was tasked with the most gut wrenching job of all, search and rescue. It is something he remembers in vivid detail to this day.
"You never forget it. I had the worst job they had. My job was to try and get the people that was on them ships to cut them out," Richard added. "I still hear them now."
Seventy-five years later, the question of if there was anything more he could have done still haunts him.
"It's sad because I couldn't do it," Richard said. "We tried. It was my job to try and get them out but we just couldn't."
While the day means different things for everyone, Richard is thankful that so many still remember the sacrifices made by the greatest generation.
"We did our share and hopefully if it ever happens again they'll do the same thing," Richard said.
The USS Kidd also held a remembrance ceremony for the White Alder, which was lost in a collision on the Mississippi River near White Castle 48 years ago.