Pearl Harbor survivor recalls the deadly day on the 75th anniversary of the attack

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December 7, 2016  marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  And at 95 years old a Hoosier Hero recalls the deadly day as a 20-year-old in the U.S. Navy.

"I went in safe and came out safe."

And 75 years later LeRoy Sykes Jr. remembers the Pearl Harbor attack ever so clearly.

"That bomb was the first one we heard it. Then we went over there where we could see it... that's when it hit Arizona," Sykes said.

Sykes was on the USS Whitney half a mile away when the Japanese struck. More than 1,000 sailors and marines were killed on the USS Arizona.

"You look over here it look really cloudy and dark and smoke like fog or something. You look over here the sun was shining," Sykes said.

Years of memories from an experience he says wasn't devastating as a 20-year-old but now weighs on his heart.

"It's a sad day for me any way of speaking. But for a long time it didn't bother me but the older I get the more it do bother me," Sykes said.

He recalled the time of segregation in the military. He says even after the bombs went off he was still only responsible for taking care of his officers.

"I had a room to clean up, shoes to shine, get his clothes up," Sykes said.

A 95-year-old living history book with stories that will be told for generations to come, stories this family will always cherish.

"It's quite an honor for me and my sister here for him to get the recognition that he deserves because for so many years we really didn't have a good understanding and appreciation for what he went through," said Wesley Sykes, LeRoy's son.

A husband, father, and retired steel mill worker who loves fishing, he survived one of the darkest days in our nation's history, making him even more thankful to be alive at 95.

"Welcome back to the first day up to this day I'm living the best life I ever lived and if I was a millionaire I couldn't be no more happier."

Congressman Andre Carson presented Sykes with a congressional honor award. Vice president-elect Gov. Mike Pence is directing flags at state facilities statewide be lowered to half-staff at sunrise Wednesday in honor of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.