LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - It was a historic event that shaped the character of the United States. December 7th, 1941.
There are few veterans that remain now from that time, some of them in East Texas.
A generation that included former president George H.W. Bush.
The images of the Pearl Harbor attack shocked Americans and set the heart of every American man on fire.
“A real feeling of patriotism at that time. People thought how dare they do that to us. I was a high school boy. I’d never heard of Pearl Harbor. We took things lightly you know, we didn’t realize what was about to happen,” says USMC World War Two veteran Hardy Johnson of Longview.
Puett Wilcox joined the army air corps, ending up a prisoner of war in Germany.
"Everybody was gung-ho for the war. They were patriotic then. They loved the flag they loved the United States," Wilcox says.
"We had to do without a lot of things in this country and people did it gladly," Johnson says.
Soon millions joined the effort. Among them a 20-year-old navy pilot George H.W. Bush, who would go on to fly over 50 combat missions, and avoid capture by the Japanese in the Pacific after being shot down.
A new generation of veterans learning about his generation.
“In the last few days, I’ve learned a lot about him. What he’s done for the country, how he served in the military,” said 2002-04 army veteran Tim Newcombe.
A lesson they hope a new generation will learn from.
"Never forget it. It was a terrible time. We could have lost that war and no telling what would have happened," says Johnson.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as of September, less than 500-thousand of the 16-million Americans who served in World War Two are still alive.