GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — Lonnie Wright arrived in Hawaii in 1940. Then just 22 years old, a buck private in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He said he arrived with big expectations.
“Movies showed Bing Crosby and them guys and all the hula skirts..everybody happy, everybody loves it,” said Wright.
Instead, he said he was disappointed to see signs that read: “No soldiers, sailors or dogs allowed.”
On Dec. 7, 1941, he had been playing cards with a buddy — when it started.
“The building shook and a real loud noise,” said Wright. “We thought the Navy did it.”
According to Wright, Navy planes had been practicing diving toward Pearl Harbor.
He looked out the window and heard a plane come by, and said, “Hey, that’s got a red dot on the side.”
Wright knew it was the enemy.
He remembers the same plane dropping a bomb on the mess hall, and that’s when Wright knew the U.S. was in a war.
Wright said he lost his best friend, Bob Westbrook, as they were running to protect the army’s planes. Westbrook got shot and fell to the ground, and Wright tried to help him up.
“His shoulders folded forward, and that’s the first time I touched a fresh dead guy…no muscle tense in there,” he recalled.
Pointing to his ear, Wright said he was lucky to survive Pearl Harbor with just a perforated eardrum caused by the bomb explosions.
On the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the 98 year old veteran says he hopes he served his country with honor, and believes it’s an experience on a scale that won’t happen again.
“It’s just something that’s done and gone,” said Wright. “I surely don’t think there will be anything like that again.”