WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – In ceremonies across the county, Americans will pause Friday to remember the horrific attack on America at Pearl Harbor. A special ceremony will take place in Wilmington as well, with the guest speaker being a former World War Two bomber pilot.
That surprise military attack damaged eight US Navy battleships, with four of them sunk and numerous other ships and aircraft either destroyed or badly damaged. Over 2,400 Americans were killed and another eighteen hundred were wounded.
Robert Newman heard the news about the attack, but like many other young men and women, went into the military shortly afterwards, and found himself on bombing missions over Europe.
Newman flew numerous combat missions, in the cockpit of the B-17 bomber, better known as the Flying Fortress. And while each bombing run was dangerous, he vividly remembers the end of one of those missions.
"Over Munich, we got two engines shot up," said Retired United State Air Force Pilot Robert Newman. "I thought I could make it back to England, but over France, a third engine started backfiring, my co-pilot saw a small landing strip when we got over northern France, so I thought I could set it down there. I did get it down, but at the end of the runway and wound up shearing the landing gear off the plane."
By the time World War Two ended, Newman had flown 25 combat missions.
"And I had God as my co-pilot on every one of those missions," said Newman.
Colonel Newman will be the keynote speaker at the area's annual Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony Friday afternoon.
It will be held in Battleship Park, across from downtown Wilmington, beginning at 1:25 p.m. The start time will match the hour in Wilmington when the first wave of Japanese aircraft hit Pearl Harbor, at 7:55 a.m., Hawaii time, December 7, 1941.
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.