GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) — A 30-year-old, 104-year-old Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor is the person many people got to meet when he visited Gulfport on Tuesday.
More than 80 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, survivor Frank Emond tells the story.
“Life isn’t always pleasant, or you don’t smell the roses all the time,” he said.
In December 1941, Emond was aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania, enlisted as a French horn player.
He remembers the song he was about to play, Morning Colours, when the Japanese bombs went off.
“You can see the smoke rising from us. We were hit by a bomb and we are on fire,” he recalls.
The ship was damaged, 67 people were injured and 15 were killed. Emond served as a stretcher-bearer, moving the bodies ashore.
“It was horrible to see what he went through, and for him to survive that long, I don’t know too many people who can do that,” said Joseph Melton, a 78-year-old Vietnam veteran.
Melton visited Emond on Tuesday as the latter signed autographs during a meet and greet at the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum.
Melton was shot by an AK 47 in 1965, earning him his first Purple Heart. He returned to the war three years later and was again shot, earning him his second.
“The bullet just grabbed me and threw me into the bushes, but I was lucky. Most people in my unit thought I was dead, but I was alive,” said Melton.
Emond’s wife, Pat, was by his side during the meeting.
“We have done a lot. I learned so much from him,” she said.
“I hope one day when I’m his age, I can have the stamina he has. And the stories he told us are incredible,” said the executive director of the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum. , Francisco González.
“I think people owe something to the general welfare of the country,” Emond said.
Emond turned 104 last month, breaking the Guinness World Record for the oldest conductor. He had this advice for all who listened to him:
“Once in a while, though, you have to do something nice for someone who would never expect it,” he said.
After Pearl Harbor, Emond remained in the Navy and became a bandleader, retiring as a chief warrant officer.
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