Local WWII vet recalls Pearl Harbor attack

HOUSTON There are so many stories you can tell about today's history -- and so many stories that disappear every day.

Before they do, we look back 69 years ago to see how an attack thousands of miles away pushed a Texas family to the front lines.

"That's where I belonged, I felt like it's our country, and it looked like we were going to have a hard time, and we did," World War II veteran Tracy Lawrence said.

Lawrence, now 93, remembers the moment he heard the radio reports about the attack on Pearl Harbor 69 years ago. He decided at that instant to sign up.

"After they started the war on Sunday, I was down on Monday to sign up for the Navy. You know, I was concerned. I loved my country." Lawrence said.

"When I got to Pearl Harbor, it was a sad situation," he said.

There were eight battleships in the harbor and all were damaged.

"It made you want to do more, what you could, in the service rather than to see the damage had been done," Lawrence said.

Lawrence was the first of four brothers to serve at the same time in World War II. He and another brother were in the Navy, while the other two served in the Marines.

It was a record of service that, he says, made his parents back home in east Texas sick.

"They were worried to death about us all the time. They suffered more than we did," Lawrence said.

They all came home. Lawrence was one of 16 million Americans who served in World War II.

He and his brothers spent most of their time in the Pacific. There's no statue to this family. No books were written about them. They served because that is what young men did in the 1940s.

Today they're mostly gone.

"I seldom ever see one. I don't know where any of them are. Most all of them are passed on," Lawrence said.

Now Lawrence and his wife of 63 years live at the Buckingham in west Houston and they're surrounded by memories of service seldom mentioned but he hopes never forgotten.

"We pretty well had a bad war to fight there for a while," he said. "It took everybody to get in the service and help out."

Lawrence wife's said back home near Carthage, there was just one man who didn't enlist. Sixteen million served in the war and less than 2 million now survive.

In 20, years the VA estimates they'll almost all be gone because 748 World War II vets die every day nationwide -- almost 50 every day in Texas alone.

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