A Proud WWII Veteran Shares His Most Vividly Indelible Memory of the 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack

Frank Curre, a proud WWII veteran who was serving on the USS Tennessee in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the day of the infamous attack in 1941, shared his incredible history with StoryCorps shortly before his death on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2011. Curre spoke about being a 17-year old who convinced his mother to sign his papers, how he was sent off to a place he’d never heard of before and his most vividly indelible recollection of the attack that made him realize the true cost of war.

The day of the attacks I was mess cooking. We hear this big blast. Instantaneously another blast. And we come up there top side. I saw the first godawful sight I witnessed that day. That’s when the bomb come down that hit the Arizona. That ship come 12 to 15 foot in the air broke into and settle back down. If you’d had a bag of popcorn and you went out here in the breeze and thew it up in the air that was bodies they went out all over that harbor. All those that could started picking them up as soon as they could. We going to get in the barges, help ’em go pick bodies out of the water. One of ’em come up. He approach a young man in the water, and as he’s approaching him, the young man, severely burned and everything, he said, “Do not touch me.” He said, “I gotta touch you. I gotta get you medical help.” And when he reached out to help the boy in, what he grabbed ahold off come right off in his hand, just like that boy had been cooked on the stove.