The attack on Pearl Harbor does not seem like 75 years ago to survivor Dorwin Lamkin.
It feels more like 175 years.
The 94-year-old Shawnee man acknowledged that Wednesday after a brief observance of Pearl Harbor Day at the Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission.
Lamkin was the guest of honor at the ceremony, which attracted more than 100 people. All stood during the playing of taps after a reading of the names of 55 deceased Pearl Harbor survivors from the Kansas side of the metro area. Lamkin is thought to be the only one left.
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“I went in the Navy when I was 18 years old,” Lamkin said Wednesday.
He was a corpsman and a hospital apprentice on the battleship USS Nevada, which was torpedoed and bombed during the surprise attack. The ship attempted to escape the harbor but was beached to avoid blocking the channel. In a 2010 interview, Lamkin described seeing death for the first time at Pearl Harbor.
The number of U.S. military and civilian deaths from the Pearl Harbor attack was 2,403, according to the National World War II Museum. Fourteen ships were sunk, damaged or destroyed. More than 300 aircraft were damaged or lost. The attack drew the United States into the war.
Lamkin patiently shook hands with several people who lined up to meet and thank him after the Wednesday ceremony.
“I’m pleased to join you all in celebrating the occasion, realizing that this has nothing to do with me,” he said.
That view wasn’t shared by three officers from the Naval Recruiting Station in Overland Park. They saluted and had their picture taken with Lamkin.
“I’ve been to the Pearl Harbor memorial in Hawaii, and it’s a pretty somber moment,” Chief Petty Officer James Mitchell of Grandview said afterward. “But to get to speak with a survivor from that attack, there are no words that can explain what that opportunity is. He’s so alive and vibrant. It’s just an honor to be here.”
“What his eyes have seen and his generation did is incredible,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Collin Knickerbocker of Dallas.
“He is a hero,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Cole Kankey of Oak Grove.