Bonelli twice dodged machine-gun fire from Japanese planes. He watched as men near him were hit.
“I was lucky,” Bonelli said. “There were so many who didn't even know what hit them.”
As Dec. 7 approaches each year, both Jay and Bonelli said their thoughts always turn to those who were killed that day — 2,402 Americans.
“It still hurts,” Bonelli said, fighting back tears. “It was so damned unnecessary.”
Jay visited Pearl Harbor about 30 years ago and saw the memorials and the cemetery where many of those who died that day were buried.
“It's no fun getting shot at,” Jay said.
“It's worse losing 2,000 of your fellow troops,” he said.
As the veterans of World War II get older, it will be left to history to remember the battles they fought.
Bonelli said he hopes people will continue to remember those who sacrificed that day and through the rest of the war to protect the United States. He never misses the city's annual Pearl Harbor ceremony held at the anchor of the USS Oklahoma City at NW 13 and Broadway.
“I want to pay my respects for those who didn't have a chance,” Bonelli said. “I'm 91, and I'm still fighting dying battles.”
We went right by Pearl Harbor. It was nothing but black smoke and flames.”
Jay, 91, was in the Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, 1941