The attack on Pearl Harbor -- "a date which will live in infamy" -- catapulted the United States' into war 73 years ago Sunday.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous description of Dec. 7, 1941, set the tone for the country's response to Japan's surprise attack that killed more than 2,400 servicemen.
Several local veterans, and a woman who recently decided to reveal her special wartime service, recently shared their memories of that day and those that followed with The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.
They are among those interviewed over the years by Sun City Hilton Head resident and Korean War veteran Arnold Rosen, who has been compiling war stories, many from his Sun City neighbors. He has written two books filled with such profiles and pens a monthly column for the community's magazine.
Never miss a local story.
"A lot of people are hesitant to do it," he said of his interview subjects. "They talk to their family, and the family tells them to do it to leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren. Once it's down on paper, they feel good about it. I get a feeling of gratitude that I'm able to do it. It gives me a lot of pleasure."
Phil Sanford was still in high school in Medford, Mass., when he and his family were shocked to hear the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.
"I was just relaxing in the sun at home with my father in the backyard," he said. "The news came in over the radio."
Sanford, now 91, graduated from high school in June 1942. He entered the aviation cadet program in the Army Air Force to become a fighter pilot, then was sent to fly B-25s at Shaw Field -- now Shaw Air Force Base -- near Sumter in 1944.
"They were in transition and didn't need fighter pilots," he said. "I was one of the lucky ones, though. Half of the applicants to the cadet program either washed out for some reason or died in training."
Sanford flew with the 499th Squadron in the 350th Bomb Group during the war, mostly in low-altitude bombing runs from Ie Shima off Okinawa, Japan.
The war ended a few months after his squadron reached Ie Shima. Sanford said the 48 planes in his group flew over Nagasaki three days after it was hit by an atomic bomb, at a height of about 1,000 feet. A few weeks later, he watched as Japanese emissaries switched planes at Ie Shima to fly to Manila, Philippines, for the Japanese surrender.
Alex Molnar and his wife, Joan, were in school outside Pittsburgh when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. Alex, now 90, was about to finish high school in the North Hills outside the city, while Joan, 84, had just started her high school career.
Joan Molnar said the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was upsetting, especially when they thought of the lives that were lost. But they also felt a fear after the attack that fighting could spill into the continental United States, she said.
"We were scared things were going to come this way," she said. "None of us had known war before, because we were in the generation born after World War I."
Alex Molnar and his four brothers all enlisted after Pearl Harbor. Each was sent to a different part of the world to fight. Alex enlisted in the Army Air Force shortly after his graduation in 1942, before he would be drafted.
"I wanted to go into the Army Air Force," he said. "If I was drafted they would have put me in the infantry."
Molnar served as a bombardier on a B-24, aiming where the aircraft would drop bombs on targets. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for missions he flew over Europe with the 15th Air Force. He primarily served in the skies above Italy.
Almost 70 years after his service, Molnar was honored for the bombing runs he participated in that helped liberate France. In June 2013, he was one of seven veterans awarded the French Legion of Honor medal for service during World War II. Many of Molnar's relatives flew into Charleston to see the French ambassador to the United States, Francois Delattre, give Molnar his medal, Joan Molnar said.
George Scuffos still remembers being stunned to see how the Spartanburg Herald-Journal announced the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed: "War Explodes in the Pacific."
Scuffos, now 95, was working in his father-in-law's store that year, in addition to the time he spent at the Charleston Navy Yard working on destroyers. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in February 1942, partly because of Pearl Harbor, but primarily to honor his younger brother, Harry. Scuffos said his brother had enlisted before him but was killed in a B-24 bomber crash in California in July 1941.
In August 1944, George Scuffos joined the 69th Bomb Squadron in New Guinea and flew 65 missions as a B-25 bomber pilot. After the war, Scuffos became an active reservist, flying a C-47 Skytrain, T-6 Texan, and a P-51 Mustang at Brookley Field outside Mobile, Ala. He joined the Air Force during the Korean War and served until 1967.
"It was a real challenge, but I loved it," he said.
Outside of her husband, few, if any people know Happy Kupperman served in the military during World War II.
Until a few months ago, Kupperman hadn't talked about her joining the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a division of the U.S. Navy.
Kupperman, 90, graduated from high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., a few months before Pearl Harbor. She had tried to join WAVES in June 1941, but was rejected because she was only 17, too young to meet the 20-year-old age requirement.
Kupperman said she was shocked to hear news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it instilled in her a deep sense of patriotism.
When she was accepted to WAVES three years later, she expected to travel around the world. Instead, she was stationed at the Anacostia Naval Air Station outside Washington, D.C., where she worked in the combat photography department.
"The commanders would come back with footage from combat," she said. "Officers would dictate what they saw and what they did, and we would type it out. They would use it to train Navy personnel."
Kupperman left WAVES after three years, but never talked about her service. When she celebrated her 90th birthday in May, one of her daughters put together a scrapbook that included her time in WAVES. After neighbors in Sun City saw the book, they encouraged her to reach out to Rosen. Her story of service will appear in an edition of the community's magazine next spring.
"Nobody knows, so it's probably going to be a shock," she said. "My service was low-key. I never really talked about it. It's a relief. I've sort of been hiding this so no one could figure out how old I am. I should be very proud of it, not hiding under a rock."
Carl Hammer was four weeks away from turning 12 when news of the attack on Pearl Harbor broke. The youngest of six children, Hammer listened to President Roosevelt's speech on the radio at home in Paterson, N.J., with his family.
"It was a very memorable speech, and I feel very fortunate when I'm able to hear it today," he said.
Hammer's brother and brother-in-law both served in the military during World War II. His family used to gather together to read V-mail -- photographed letters that were censured to protect information -- the two would send home to Paterson.
The Sun City resident will turn 85 on Jan. 1. He wasn't called up for service until the Korean War, but he still vividly remembers the hardships during the Great Depression and World War II his family lived through.
"We were indirectly affected by the war effort," he said. "I remember having to ration sugar and gas. We just worked the best we could."
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.