Heroes From the Heart of Virginia: Pearl Harbor

Reporter: Jeremy Mills

Lynchburg, VA - "December 7th, 1941 a date which will live in infamy." The Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor was intended to neutralize the US Pacific Fleet. Instead, it launched the US into World War II.

"Most of the guys said where's Pearl Harbor? That's how much we knew about Pearl Harbor," WWII veteran Bob Odom said.

A group of veterans living at the Elk's National Home in Bedford say what they did know right away was that they were going to war.

Army Signal Corps veteran Robert Quarlez said, "I came down through the barracks and somebody said the Japs hit Pearl Harbor and that's the first we knew about it. The 12th of December, we left there, headed for Fort Dix."

"There was some excitement to it but it was mostly dread I think," Army-Air Force veteran Joseph Goode said.

"Was a lot bigger than we thought it was going to be.""But I knew we'd soon be in, into it," WWII veteran Allen Huddleston said.

Quarles was transferred to the base at Pearl Harbor, where he says he learned why the Japanese planes were never tracked by military air traffic controllers.

"The Army officer and the Navy officer had been out on a big binge Saturday night and they didn't pay any attention to plotting the flight so we were just sitting ducks there. And that's the reason they lost so many," Quarles said.

No question it altered the lives of so many, including Bob Odom and Allen Huddleston.

They were sent to the South Pacific where they fought until the war ended in 1945.

Originally they were set to leave the Army in 1942.

"Everybody knew, once Pearl Harbor, didn't know when we was going to get to go home," Huddleston said.