Pearl Harbor Survivor John A. Rauschkolb Remembers

As times passes , the attacks on Pearl Harbor are increasingly becoming a historic event noted in history books and documentary films. As of 2012, less than 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors remain alive in the world.

These survivors continue to share their story of December 7, 1941, with the generations of Americans and world citizens too young to have lived during that monumental era.

Pearl Harbor Survivor John A. Rauschkolb, 91, remembers that fateful day. He recently shared his story with high school students at Atwater High School near Merced, California, located about 50 miles east of San Jose.

Pearl Harbor Survivor John A. Rauschkolb Remembers

Photo by MARCI STENBERG via Pearl Harbor survivor John A. Rauschkolb talks to students in a World History class, Thursday, Feb. 02, 2012.

Rauschkolb recalled the early morning surprise attacks when Japanese aircraft flew into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and bombed the naval base, American battleships, and airfields.

“The attack was hell,” Rauschkolb told the Merced Sun-Star newspaper. “There is no other way to explain it. The stench of human flesh burning in my nose remains to this day.”

He was just 20 years old at the time, a sailor on the USS West Virginia. Nearly 2,400 people died that day, and 1,700 were injured.

But recalling those events at Atwater High this February is not the first time Rauschkolb has shared his story with students.

Every year for the past five years, world history teach Seth Medefind has invited Rauschkolb to speak to his class. This year, Rauschkolb talked to six world history classes. He gave students a 50-minute presentation with photos of the bombed battleships as well as military memorabilia.

“It’s important for kids to connect what’s in textbooks with real-life events,” Medefind told the Merced Sun-Star.

Read the original story:

…On that fateful December morning, many thought the approaching planes were another frequent training session, but Rauschkolb, a third-class signalman, knew better. Soon after the Japanese aerial onslaught, Rauschkolb found himself retrieving body parts of fellow sailors from the harbor.

He was standing about seven feet away from the ship’s captain, who was killed by shrapnel. As Japanese planes strafed the battleship West Virginia, Rauschkolb had to dive into the oil-soaked waters to dodge the gunfire and swim deep to escape the flames licking the surface…


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