Golden man returning to Pearl Harbor 75 years after witnessing attack

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GOLDEN, Colo. -- Dick Sugg was just a 9-year-old kid, living an idyllic life on the Hawaiian island of Oahu 75 years ago, when he witnessed the first bombs and bullets being dropped during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“It was called the Paradise of the Pacific when we were there.  And nobody ever thought it would happen there but it did,” Sugg said.

It was Dec. 7, 1941.  The beginning of the attack by the Japanese that killed more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors, and plunged the United States into World War II.

“At about 8 in the morning, when I was reading the Sunday funnies, all of the sudden the house started to shake.  Very hard,” Sugg said.

"We all went outside to look at what was going on and what was saw was Japanese planes flying very, very low.  And we could actually see the pilot's faces. They were that low.”

Sugg was living at Schofield Barracks at Wheeler Airfield, where his mother was a school principal.  Within minutes, his surroundings were on fire, and everyone nearby, was being fired on.

“When my dad got outside, he said ‘Get back inside, those are real bullets,’” Sugg said.

Within days, they had gas masks on, and their front yard had an air raid trench dug in it.  By the end of the month, he’d been evacuated to the mainland.

“After I'd been back to the states for about a year, I found myself still ducking a bit when I heard an airplane,” Sugg said.

It would be 25 years before Sugg -- by then an Army man himself, serving in Vietnam -- would return to Hawaii.  He's going back to Pearl Harbor this week.

“I'm very fortunate to be able to go along.  I'm really looking forward to the trip, and of course I consider it a great honor,” Sugg said.

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Sugg is returning to Hawaii with a group from Colorado.  A chance, he hopes, to once again see the places were familiar to him as a child.

At 84 years old, he's likely one of the youngest pearl harbor survivors who'll be making the trip.

"Probably 10 years younger than any other veteran who was there," Sugg said.

He was just a kid.  And all these years later, this career military man still has nothing but respect for the military men who served that day.  Those who survived, and those young men whose remains are still at the bottom of Pearl Harbor 75 years later.