ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – A Southwest Florida man who survived the attacks at Pearl Harbor is on a mission to return to Hawaii this Dec. 7 to mark the day of the attack 74 years ago.
“Well this is the 74th anniversary of the original attack and I’m one of 87,000 men that were there at that time,” said 92-year-old John Seelie.
He was a 19-year-old soldier stationed in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.
“You cannot portray what actually happened, because in battle, there is tremendous smell of blood, sulfer from the shells and decaying bodies,” said Seelie.
Tuesday, Seelie reminisced on old pictures, maps and his time fighting in the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Well I did a lot of bayonet fighting because the Japanese were the type that came at you with bayonets, you had no choice, you either did or didn’t,” said Seelie.
This year, the Greatest Generation Foundation was supposed to pay for Seelie’s trip to Oahu. But last week, Seelie found out he won’t be able to share his stories with other survivors.
“He found out on November 8th of this year, that they need a minimum of six veterans to send back and they only had three,” said Michael Cahill, Seelie’s friend.
Cahill has been working around the clock to get his friend on a flight to Hawaii.
“If a Pearl Harbor survivor is healthy enough to go, my opinion is we as Americans have to find a way to send them,” said Cahill.
The official Pearl Harbor Oahu website has a page dedicated to raising money for Seelie. Just over $600 has been raised as of Tuesday.
“He made today possible for everyone 74 years ago. Today, we have to be there to make his dream possible for him,” said Cahill.