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'I think of Pearl Harbor probably every day'

  • Don Blair, 89, is the president of the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and was aboard the USS Nevada during the attack.

There are times, some marked by panicky midnight dreams or haphazard flashbacks, when Don Blair would rather forget Pearl Harbor.

"It's not as vivid now as it was," said the private and contemplative ex-sailor and retired postal employee. "But I think of Pearl Harbor probably every day, one way or another."

At 89, Blair is president of the regional chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association whose membership has dwindled to a handful of old salts.

Local Pearl Harbor Memorial

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The Rohnert Park resident is proud to have served with the Navy and to have been at Pearl Harbor, even though the terror of what he saw and experienced aboard the beleaguered battleship Nevada 68 years ago today still haunts him.

At 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, 23 members of a Navy band launched into the National Anthem for the morning's raising of the flag aboard the 29,000-ton battleship USS Nevada.

The Nevada -- America's 36th battleship, named for the 36th state -- was moored just off Pearl Harbor's Ford Island near the clustered battleships Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Maryland and California.

Suddenly, waves of Japanese torpedo bombers and dive-bombers attacked. All members of the Nevada's band stood their ground until finishing "The Star-Spangled Banner," then sprinted to their battle stations.

Blair, who served as a yeoman, has plenty to say about Pearl Harbor, but he is reluctant to say anything for fear it may sound like he's complaining. As grateful as he is that some people still honor WWII vets and show an interest in their war, he recoils at the thought of anyone equating him with his fellow warriors who demonstrated great valor under fire.

"I'm not unique," Blair said. "And I'm no hero."

At 8:10 a.m., a torpedo struck the port side of the Nevada and exploded. Water streamed in through the damaged hull.


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