Central Texas veteran remembers Pearl Harbor attack

JC Alston said, back in the early 1940s, he and his friends knew they wanted to join the military--they wanted to ride, not walk, said the 94-year-old Navy veteran.
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A 94-year-old Navy veteran who now calls Central Texas home was just getting off of a watch shift when the attack at Pearl Harbor began.

JC Alston was 18-years-old, just a few months out of boot camp, when he was thrust into four long years of war.  He was in San Diego, California for training and then went aboard the USS California.

"We'd go out on Monday, go in on Friday, tie up.  We did that for a month," he said.

It was a moment that changed the course of history and Alston was there.  He was going to get breakfast when it all began.  As the attack on Pearl Harbor was underway, his ship began sinking, but he and his ship men later abandoned ship - swimming away for fear the USS California would roll over.

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"It settled down in the mud.  It didn't turn over like the Oklahoma," Alston said.

He went on to serve in Palau, the Admiralty Islands, Philippines and Iwo Jima.  He recounted one battle.

"We got through shooting.  We sank everything except two and they were crippled.  They got up the straits a little ways," he said  "We had to quit firing because our troops was up in that area and some of our equipment, but the next morning the planes sunk them."

The veteran was a part of the historic start and finish in World War II.  He was also on a ship in Tokyo Bay when the peace treaty was signed on September 2, 1945.

Alston said the atomic bombs were necessary during World War II.

"If we had invaded the mainland, we would have lost a lot of troops," the Pearl Harbor survivor said. "When they signed the peace treaty, we was all going in.  Well the Japanese when the Emperor said it was over, hey they was out jumping out in the water...coming by swimming."

Alston has returned to Pearl Harbor on some anniversaries since 1941, like the 50th and the 75th.

"No flashback or anything like that, I could just look where we were tied up and said, well I was lucky.  I was one of the ones that got out alive," he said.