By Dennis Smith
December 7th, 1941: The Japanese Navy launches a surprise attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. America was now at war.
"When they were dropping the bombs, they would wave to us," remembers Navy veteran Joseph Richard. "You could see their eyes and recognize their faces. How close they were."
Shipfitter 1st class Joseph Richard of Sunset, Louisiana was a 16 year old sailor aboard the ship tender, the USS Rigel. About half the Americans killed that day were aboard the USS Arizona. A bomb crashed through her decks igniting a forward powder magazine. Nearly 1200 sailers would die, but some would live, thanks to Richard and his shipmates.
"We worked on the Arizona 1st, the same day," says Richard. "Right after that we saved 33 people."
Nearby the Oklahoma rolls after being hit by several torpedoes. 400 men are trapped inside its hull.
"Three days later on the Oklahoma we was passing by and we could hear somebody knock so we saved 3 of them on there," explains Price. "We didn't know who they were. They took them to sick bay and we went about our business."
He continues, "Fifty-seven years later I met him in las vegas by accident. He was sitting talking to some friends of mine telling them that somebody on the USS Rigel had saved them so I listened till he finished. When he finished I tapped him on the shoulder and I said you are looking at one of us who saved you. One of the fellows asked if he said anything. I said no he just kissed me. He kissed me. Made you feel good. You can never forget. I've got a lot of faces still staring . That's the saddest part. You never leave them."
Richard later served aboard Admiral Halsey's flagship and took part in a number of Pacific invasions. He is still in business in Louisiana.
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