Tioga County Pearl Harbor survivor honored

OWEGO, N.Y. - 76 years ago, the United States experienced the Day that would live in infamy as our country was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

96-year old Bill Kennedy of Owego was at Pearl Harbor serving as an Air Force Private First Class aircraft mechanic when the Japanese attacked.

He was honored Thursday as Jim Raftis and others in Owego came out to remember the events that took place in 1941.

The ceremony took place at 12:55 p.m., the exact time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Kennedy, who was 20 years old at the time says he saw the first bomb hit the USS Arizona.

He says two men were manning a radar screen when they saw a multitude of airplanes about an hour away, and Kennedy says they were mistaken for US planes coming from a different location.

He says intelligence wasn't alarmed so preventative measures were not taken that could have limited damage to battleships.

He says when he saw the Japanese approaching, there wasn't much time to react. 

"There was nothing we could do.  We were airmen.  Down at the hanger, there were arms.  When the Japs attacked, the planes were all lined up for them," said Kennedy.

The event is usually held at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial at the Courthouse, but they moved it inside to the VFW Post 1371 at Kennedy's request.

Raftis also honored three other deceased Pearl Harbor survivors from Tioga County, Donald Stocks, Lester Dunham, and Richard Hopkins.

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