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Bend Pearl Harbor survivor making trip back


The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a dark day in American history, but a big part of that history is still living today. One local survivor is planning on making the trip back to Ford Island this December for the 75th anniversary of the “day of infamy.”

Dick Higgins lives in Bend with his granddaughter and her family. All of them will be attending the anniversary, including Higgins’ 2-year-old grandson, Josiah.

When we met Higgins, he took us back to December 7th, 1941.

“I was on Ford Island, on the third deck, the third floor,” Higgins said.

It was a day that will never be forgotten. The United States was under attack.

“Kind of merges together. First wave, second wave.”

Higgins remembers the moment he woke up to an explosion.

“Jumped out of my bunk and ran over to the side — plane went right over the barracks about 100 feet up with big red paint balls” on the side, Higgins said.

Those red circles were the sign of the enemy: the Japanese.

“It took me about a tenth of a second to figure out what it was,” Higgins said.

The attack on Pearl Harbor took the lives of 2,403 American soldiers.

“It was like Boston Harbor on the Fourth of July night — just every gun in the harbor went off,” Higgins said.

As waves of attacks hit the U.S. fleet’s harbor, the Americans did everything they could to strike back.

“We spent the rest of the day to get planes flyable,” Higgins said.

As Higgins talks about his memories, his passion and pride for this country is obvious. He points out a special photo, seen by most in a history book. But for Higgins, this image is more than just a snapshot.

“Where were you in this photo?” NewsChannel 21’s Samantha O’Connor asked.

“Right here,” Higgins said as he points to the edge of the photo.

Pearl Harbor wasn’t the only historical event in Higgins’ life.

“I lived on a farm in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma,” Higgins said.

Higgins lived through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor, but he still says his family is his greatest legacy.

“You never know. I hope he lives for another 10 years,” said Angela Norton, Higgins’ granddaughter. “But to have Josiah, to have these memories at a young age of his great-grandfather is so important.”

Grandpa and 2-year-old Josiah, or as they call each other “G” and “J” — a bond spanning three generations. This special bond puts a personal touch on history.

“Knowing that his great grandfather was in Hawaii when they started bombing and so I hope that he has a great respect for veterans because that’s very important for our family,” Norton said.

A respect important for this family, and our entire American family.

“The things that I would tell the kids is that freedom isn’t free. You’ve got to protect it and fight for it, probably many times over,” Higgins said. “Don’t let it get away from you, because it’s too hard to get back.”

Higgins will be attending the anniversary with the whole family, and they are all very excited.

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