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    Posted June 1, 2014 by
    Pensacola, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Salute to families

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    Bringing History to Life

    Thirteen year-old Joshua Sourdif and his mom hurried home from soccer practice. They had a book signing to attend and Joshua would get to meet local Pearl Harbor Survivors. A couple of years ago, his Boy Scout troop had an opportunity to go to Pensacola International Airport to see six Pearl Harbor Survivors off on a trip that would return them to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The survivors would be in Hawaii on December 7th, just as they had been 70 years earlier and a lifetime ago. These men would gather with fellow survivors to commemorate the Japanese attack that launched America into World War II.

    Although a seventy-year time span was difficult for Joshua to grasp, he did understand about survival. As a Boy Scout Joshua had learned survival skills, camping with minimal supplies, and finding his way in unfamiliar territory. These were things the Pearl Harbor veterans had learned during their military service and much more. These men had literally fought for their lives during the attack and the war that followed.

    When his scout troop went to the airport, they presented commemorative pins to the survivors, who graciously added them to their parade hats. “We had to be at the airport at 3:45 AM,” Joshua said. “I always love getting up in the middle of the night for adventures.” There wasn’t much time to talk with the survivors that morning. The book sighing tonight will be different. The book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye, written by Billie and Robert Nicholson, was just released and the Pearl Harbor Survivors were going to be at the book launch. The book is filled with location photos both during and after the attack and includes their personal accounts of December 7, 1941, as well as the details of their return trip. Josh could hardly wait. Tonight he would get to hear their stories first hand.

    Authors, Billie and Robert Nicholson were a key part of the team that worked to raise community awareness and helped these heroes return to Pearl Harbor. The goal was to honor their comrades who had died during that fateful December day and to revisit the locations where they had been during the attack. They created and maintained a website, http://www.PearlHarborHonorFlight.com, and provided photo documentary coverage of all the fund raising events and presentations. Billie and Robert traveled with the survivors and created photographs throughout the trip to Hawaii for the survivors’ “One Last Goodbye.” The book pays homage to these military veterans of our Greatest Generation for their extraordinary courage and personal sacrifice during that conflict.

    Joshua listened to Sgt.Maj. Bill Braddock, USMC (RET) recall rushing outside his barracks to see Japanese planes strafing the ground around the Marine flagpole. He observed Japanese pilots flying down the channel to drop torpedoes and bombs on the battleships. “The sky was filled with black smoke, the water was on fire and there was pandemonium all around us,” Braddock recalled. They talked for some time about Braddock’s more difficult experiences at Iwo Jima and other battles. Josh proudly held his autographed copy of the book. The rich tapestry of personal accounts detailed in the book has now come to life with a personal connection between Joshua Sourdif and Bill Braddock.

    Additional information about these heroes’ stories and the book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye, is available on the website http://www.PearlHarborHonorFlight.com. A book signing and presentation is scheduled 11 am – 1 pm at June 7, 2014 at Hawsey’s Book Index, 803 N. Navy Blvd., Pensacola, FL
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