Pearl Harbor Survivor Shares Story Before "Armed Forces Remembrance Days"

By Grant Sloan |

Published 05/08 2014 06:21PM

Updated 05/08 2014 06:54PM

BRANSON, Mo. -- Branson prepares to honor active duty men and women, next week, when it will host a number of events for Armed Forces Remembrance Days.

Thousands are expected to attend, including a number of veterans from past wars, who know all too well the sacrifice of our forces overseas.

A man who falls directly inline with that description is WW2 Veteran, and Pearl Harbor survivor, Lonnie Cook.

"I was 21 when the war started, " says Cook, referring to when the first bomb dropped. "So I started up through the turret and it blew up when I was half way up."

Cook worked with a turret crew on the U.S.S. Arizona, a battleship that saw more than 1,100 young men loose their lives.

"The smoke came form a bomb that come down beside of turret four, it went off down there, and that's where the smoke was coming from, " says Cook. "When we went out we took people off burned, crippled.... The uniform of the day was a t-shirt and white shorts, so they had no protection from the flash burns."

Cooks says when he finally abandoned ship the U.S.S Arizona was 18 feet under water. The US was now in the war, and the Oklahoma native's journey had only begun.

"February of '45 we landed troops on Iwo Jima," says Cook, remembering his time in the Pacific, "Saw the flag raised though my binoculars, I was gun captain of number 4 (turret). Supposedly there were 46 destroyers went to Okinawa, Only six didn't get hit, or sunk, we were on one of them."

Cook's journey also took him to the battles of Coral Sea and Midway.

"Suicide planes come right in...That was the worse part of the war I think."

The Veteran wears a neck-piece now, given only to Pearl Harbor Survivors. The Veteran says he tells his story now to others, simply because he can.

"A lot of them won't forget, some of them will," says Cook.

KOLR 10 was able to speak with Cook thanks to Branson's Veterans Task Force, a group that will be hosting a number of the Armed Forces Remembrance Days.

The event run from May 14-19, for more information go to check out Branson's Calendar of events

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