CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – Bill Otterman remembers December 7th 1941 down to the minute.
“I had just come out of an afternoon movie theater on Sunday, after watching Gone with the Wind, and people in town were up and down the street talking about Pearl Harbor. Took me a while to understand what it was about, but it changed my life ever sense,” Otterman said.
Otterman had a cousin on the U.S.S. Arizona. His cousin was found in the water after it the battleship was attacked that day. He survived, inspiring Otterman to step up.
“I admired my cousin so much, because he was a heck of a football player. I wanted to be in the navy more than anything else,” Otterman said.
Otterman served two and half years in WWII in the Navy. Giving Bennett Smith, the man hosting today’s event, more reason to teach those about how this attack impacted everyone.
“People forget America was very reluctant to enter WWII. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack, blatant, so unbelievable, that that catapulted America’s involvement in the war and changed the war,” Bennett Smith, an instructor with the Lifelong Learning Institute said.
Smith says this lifelong learning event is important because this day in history can be hard to grasp.
“A lot of young people and folks that maybe didn’t have a relative involved in WWII they don’t maybe know about the attack so it’s very important we educate the public about that,” Smith said.
Otterman couldn’t agree more.
“I left my grandparents, parents, and you never know if you’re coming back but I was one of those who were fortunate,” Otterman said.