Pensacola, Florida (WALA) - FOX10 News is honoring Memorial Day early. We have been sittingdown with local World War II veterans to share their stories ofcourage with you.
Frank DeLorenzo was a navy transport pilot on the day theJapanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He said after the attack, rumorsstarted flying - there were concerns that the Japanese would invadeMexico and make their way to California.
Thankfully, that didn't happen. But as you'll soon find out, theJapanese got closer to the U.S mainland than you might think.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese struck a blow to America'spsyche by launching an aerial attack on Pearl Harbor.
That same day, Frank DeLorenzo was a naval pilot based in SanDiego. On that Sunday morning, he was sharing breakfast with hisfriends, and couldn't have imagined what had happened.
"We were having a jolly time, eating bacon and eggs when thephone rang. My friend picked it up and went, 'Yeah, okay! And themoon is made of green cheese!' And he hung up. Then it rang againimmediately. 'Yes, yes sir. Right away sir. Guys, the Bloody Maryparty is over. The Japs have just attacked Pearl Harbor, and we'reat war!'" DeLorenzo remembered.
DeLorenzo said America was not prepared.
"Domestic intelligence as to what was going on in the far eastwas pratically nil," DeLorenzo said. "Rumors started flying. Onerumor was that the Japanese had an amphibious invasion force, andthey were going to invade San Diego."
So DeLorenzo was sent on his patrol plane to monitor BajaCalifornia.
"Saw no sign of Japs. No sign of anything! All I saw were thegoats on Guadalupe Island," he recalled.
DeLorenzo was ordered to remain on base. He and his fellowservice members stayed in hangers and slept in cots. He said themood was apprehensive.
"We were surprised that the Japs had the gumption andwherewithal to attack Pearl Harbor," he said.
DeLorenzo said the Japanese let the Americans know they werenearby.
"One Japanese submarine was off the coast of the state ofWashington," DeLorenzo said.
The Air Force said in 1944, the Japanese launched weatherballoons with small bombs on them to set the forests on fire.
"One or more Japanese subs got down off the coast of Californiaand was lobbing shells into the state of California from thesubmarine," he said.
DeLorenzo added the subs did little damage, but it was certainlyalarming.
On Christmas Day, 1941, DeLorenzo flew a plane that carriedAdmiral Chester Nimitz, the commander-in-chief of the PacificFleet.
They were giving him an aerial tour of Pearl Harbor.
As they flew overhead, they invited the Admiral to thecockpit.
"Put him in the left-hand seat, and made big sweeping turns.What he saw was sickening," he remembered.
Ships were sunk or upside down.
"All airplane hangers completely demolished. No roofs, nowalls," DeLorenzo said. "Bomb craters everywhere. Oil was 6-8inches thick from the ships that had been torpedoed. [Nimitz]didn't say anything. He just shook his head and clucked histongue."
After that tour, DeLorenzo spent the rest of the war flyingtransport planes between America and Australia.
DeLorenzo said during the war, he detested the Japanese for whatthey did to his fellow Americans. But now in reflection, he hasforgiven them. They were just doing their duty, just like hewas.
"Our very survival, keep the U.S. the greatest country in theworld. Great and free and safe," he said.
DeLorenzo was just one of thousands of American men and womenwho did just that.
We'd love to hear your war stories. Upload your own World War II photos and shareyour stories with us.
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