OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - "I had just finished breakfast," said Clyde Stephenson, a retired Marine who served aboard the U.S.S. California in Pearl Harbor.
Retired Marine Clyde Stephenson talks at a Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony in Oshkosh on Dec. 7, 2017 (WBAY photo)
At a ceremony Thursday, Stephenson remembered the first moments he saw Japanese planes 76 years ago Thursday.
"Going back to the tent where I was living and I looked up and there was right above us, several hundred feet above us, Japanese planes," said Stephenson.
He says he was at a rifle range at the entrance of the harbor when the aerial attack began.
"We weren't at war yet, so we weren't prepared for them," said Stephenson.
Now 97 years old and living in Appleton, Stephenson says that deadly day doesn't cross his mind very often.
"I don't think about it too much anymore because something like this brings it back to your memory,” Stephenson said. “I've had a good life, I had a good family."
But he says remembrance ceremonies like Thursday’s put on by AMVETS Post #7 in Oshkosh are important.
Valley Christian school students read the names of the 56 Wisconsin natives killed at Pearl Harbor, followed by the solemn tolling of a bell.
"Every time the bell tolled it really resonated with me that these were real people, real families, and it was just an honor to remember them," said Rachel Hubbard, a junior at Valley Christian.
"For me it's history," said Stephenson.