MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOX) – A St. Louisan served on the USS Chew destroyer at Pearl Harbor – the closest destroyer to battleship row.

“We only had one gun that was effective against aircraft. The others were 50 caliber machine guns. It’s just an indication how ill-prepared we were for World War Two, ” says Elmer Luckett.

Luckett was on the top deck of the Chew when the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack occurred, “Planes came in dive-bombing and I said to a shipmate next to me ‘This means war.’ It’s just something that shot out of my mouth. I realize that. But, I was right. The next day the President declared war on Japan.”

Luckett spoke with KMOX at a Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Service at the Emerson Marshall Sherwood American Legion post in Maryland Heights on Saturday.

He describes the initial scene at Pearl Harbor as “pandemonium,” and says it was frightening, “Self-preservation is within all of us. Nobody wants to die! When you see battleships being sunk and planes coming in raining down all this death & destruction, you are scared & anxious, wondering what’s going to happen next. Anybody who was there at Pearl Harbor and saw all the death & destruction was scared! If they weren’t scared, there must’ve been something wrong with them.”

Luckett says he hopes Americans won’t ever forget the significance of what happened at Pearl Harbor.


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