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One local Pearl Harbor survivor remains

12:18 AM, Dec 8, 2013   |    comments
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  • Herb Elfring attends a Pearl Harbor ceremony at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home
  • Herb Elfring attends a Pearl Harbor ceremony at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home
    

GRAND RAPIDS, (WZZM) - Over 2,400 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor. 3 of the veterans were from Kent County.

Saturday, one of the known remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in West Michigan spoke.

Herb Elfring shared his story during a ceremony at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home.

"My experience was a rude awakening on Dec. 7, 1941," said Herb Elfring.

72 years ago, the Japanese were swarming in on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

"A land of bullets only missed me by 15 feet that morning," said Elfring. "All along we could hear the bombs going off."

Now in his 90s, but with the energy of a man in his 60s, Herb Elfring lives as the last of the 150 serviceman in his San Diego National Guard group.

"When I looked up and saw the red on the fuselage I realized it wasn't our plane," he told the crowd.

He wasn't in the harbor that morning, where 21 ships were sunk or damaged, and 188 aircraft destroyed. So every year on this date, he counts his blessings.

"I try not to let it bother me emotionally," he said.

But in more recent years, he's also remembering other veterans who passed away on that day; men he can no longer trade stories with.

"These old timers who are not in good health, in wheelchairs and walkers and what not," he said.

Elfring tries to stay in good health so he can share his story with a younger generation.

"I'm still downhill skiing and square dancing and playing golf and tennis yet, I can't believe how fortunate I am really," he said.

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