Metro Pearl Harbor survivors meet for first time on attack’s 77th anniversary

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Dorinda Nicholson spends every Pearl Harbor Day talking about the "day that will live in infamy."

She spoke Friday at events in Mission and Kansas City, but in between the events she returned home for a conversation arranged by FOX4, 77 years in the making.

"You and I are one of the few that are left that's actual witnesses to the attack," Jack Schroeder, 84, said minutes after entering Nicholson's home.

Then 7 years old, Schroeder's dad was a Navy pilot stationed at the Naval Air Station Kaneohe. Nicholson, now 83, was a 6-year-old Hawaii native living on the opposite side of the island in Pearl Harbor.

"We didn't believe it could happen. How in the world is Japan going to go 4,242 miles?" Nicholson said.

But as her mom prepared Sunday breakfast the attack on the U.S.S. Arizona, Pearl Harbor and Kanehoe started.

"The bombs start falling shortly before 8 in the morning, then our house shakes and we run out into our yard and we can see the pilots," Nicholson remembered.

Schroeder's mom thought it was an air show.

"About that time a Japanese plane flew over real low with a rising sun on the wings, he turned white as a sheet and he said 'Airshow? Hell, my God, this is war,'" he remembered his dad said.

One of the planes carried by six Japanese aircraft carriers ended up in Schroeder's yard.

"Dumb me, I wanted to climb up on the wing and look in the cockpit. My dad is, 'Oh no you are not.'"

Schroeder's family would evacuate to California, though he'd return years later to the site of that's plane impact.

Nicholson's family initially hid in the sugar cane fields and would stay on Oahu throughout the war.

'"Look at this. United States, non combatant, gas mask child. Property of the U.S. Government," she showed Schroeder as she looked through items she collected during her childhood.

A childhood that was suddenly swept up in a war zone with gas masks and air raid drills for families like Nicholson's, who were simply getting ready for church that Sunday.

"We kids would just pick up these bullet casings and make whistles out of them what kids like to do.'

She's since written a book, "The Pearl Harbor Child," and even helped create an American Girl doll in her likeness. On days like Friday, she enjoys sharing the story, in hopes others will learn from the attack, few people can remember the way Nicholson and Schroeder do.

"I just remember it like it was yesterday," Schroeder said.

"It's a date that is living in infamy, certainly with me and always will," Nicholson said.