MESA, Ariz. — Last week marked the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Jack Holder, who now lives in Chandler, survived the attack when he was 19.
"The hangar beside us blew up, and we all ran outside and saw all the aircraft in the sky, and we knew immediately what was happening," Holder recalled.
He said his memories are vivid even eight decades later.
"One of my shipmates said 'let's go to the ditch, follow me,' and we jumped in the ditch and sat there clinging to each other."
With bullets flying and bombs falling all around them, he recounted the worst part of all.
"What was really the horror was seeing my shipmates jumping off the ships into the water covered with oil and on fire," Holder continued. "Most of them died in the water, some of them died when they got to the beach it was a horrible sight."
Holder went back to Hawaii for the 80th anniversary on December 7.
"I haven’t forgotten any of it, but it's nice to see it again."
Holder turns 100 years old on Monday.
The Christian nonprofit Grounded No More honored the deserving veteran on Sunday with a surprise honor flight.
"I didn't know where I was going," Holder said in shock before he took off at Mesa's Falcon Field.
Grounded No More’s mission is to 'serve those who have served us' with free flights for veterans.
"Thanks is not enough, but I extend all the thanks I can think of," Holder said to all involved. "It’s such a great surprise, pleasure, and I really thank the group."
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