Local woman remembers Pearl Harbor attack

Posted at: 12/07/2012 6:10 PM
Updated at: 12/07/2012 6:35 PM
By: Maria Guerrero and Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Pearl Harbor was attacked 71 years ago today, and a local woman who lived through it is sharing her memories.

"Here I am right there," Lani Kamauoha points out in a framed picture in her hallway. There’s a lot Kamauoha likes to remember of her childhood in Hawaii.

The 87-year-old Rio Rancho resident was a recording artist.

"I was called the Hawaiian Angel," she said.

But when you ask her about the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the memories are sometimes too painful.

"You just mentioning that chokes me up and I want to cry because I can envision what I saw,” she said. “The bus stopped and at this particular curve and from it I could see way out to the right."

A 16-year-old Lani was on her way to the natatorium in Oahu. Little did she realize she would witness a surprise attack that would launch the United States into World War II.

“I immediately envision and see those Japanese planes flying around. We didn't know they were Japanese planes," she remembers. "I had a perfect place to see it. I could see our guns shooting up at these planes. I saw great billows of smoke in Pearl Harbor those were the ships burning including the USS Arizona."

In two hours, the attack on Pearl Harbor claimed 2,439 lives. The country was at war and Lani’s home would never be the same.

"Every available park in the city had army military camps on them," she said.

She’s visited the watery grave of the USS Arizona several times.

"You have a feeling of stillness of I almost want to use the word aw and reverence and you can stand there and you can see where the oil is still coming up from that sunken ship" all of these years," she said.

71 years later Lani Kamauoha is remembering a day of infamy with a Hawaiian chant.

"It's a day when our whole country changed," she said.