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Stories From Main Street: Pearl Harbor Survivor In Union Leaves Story For Generations To Come

The U.S.S. Curtiss burns at Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7, 1941 (credit: U.S. Navy)

The U.S.S. Curtiss burns at Pearl Harbor – Dec. 7, 1941 (credit: U.S. Navy)

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UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - The sights, the sounds, and smells of the attack on Pearl Harbor are forever seared into Union resident Tom Mahoney’s memory.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

“We had to walk almost into the fires and we’re slipping and sliding on the deck with a 30 degree list with blood, oil, water,” he said. “We heard this ‘swish’ and it was an 800k bomb.”

WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams introduced Mr. Mahoney to you for the 70th anniversary of the attack.

He’s been honored for his service and for speaking to schoolchildren.

Tom Mahoney - Union, NJ - Nov 30, 2011 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

Tom Mahoney – Union, NJ – Nov 30, 2011 (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

Since then, he had been quite busy.

“I wanted to leave my memoirs,” he told Adams.

He calls his story “Into the Depths of Hell and the Return.”

“I tell you, if people think war is fun, they don’t know what anything is,” he said.

It was against regulations, but he kept diaries.

“Every day is registered in the diaries. They were little tiny books and I kept them in my shoes so I wouldn’t be court martialed,” he said.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

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Mahoney writes in vivid detail about Kamikaze attacks and efforts to save his ship, the U.S.S. Curtiss. He later served about the destroyer U.S.S. O’Bannon. He witnessed history and the horrors of war.

“War brings you sorrow, hate, despair, and nothing else,” he said. “It’s an awful thing, seeing these kids watching these violent pictures.”

As Mahoney turns 91, the enemy now is cancer, which is spreading throughout his head.

But he has no complaints. He says life has has been good. He cherishes his daughters and he has deep affection for his wife of 66 years – Claire.

“It was my wife, or girlfriend at that time, that carried me through,” he said.

EXTRA: NJ Professor Looks Back On FDR’s Handling Of Pearl Harbor Using Radio

He continues to write with a neighbor assisting as editor. He says a small publisher has expressed interest.

“My mission now is to get the book published and have every young person read it and they would understand what it’s all about to go to war,” he said. “I read it and I get choked up. Every sentence brings back memories.”

Did you or someone you know serve at Pearl Harbor? Please share the story below.