WWII Veteran Recalls Pearl Harbor 80 Years On

First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

As the United States marked 80 years since the Japanese attacked the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Tuesday, La Cañada Flintridge resident Roy Dill took to social media to remember the “knock-out blow” that forever changed his life.
“I doubt if there are many, if any, of you folks that remember this day 80 years ago as vividly as I do,” the World War II veteran wrote on Nextdoor. “It was a Sunday and my family was having [breakfast] around the dining room table. The radio was on and we were listening to President Franklin D. Roosevelt announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was only in junior high school and the seriousness of the announcement didn’t register. But it did on Dad. He was a WWI U.S. Army veteran and could see WWII was about to happen.”
Dill was 15 years old at the time of the surprise attack, which killed 2,390 Americans and shook the country to its core, but some three years later he found himself drafted and on the way to the Philippines with the U.S. Army Infantry.
“An all-expense paid trip courtesy of the USA,” joked Dill, now 95.
The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor launched the United States into the thick of World War II, and left the country in despair over the deaths and sense of vulnerability on its shores.
But Dill recalled that in hindsight, it was an incredible few years to have lived through: “What happened between that Dec. 7 around the breakfast table and the September, 1945, day I was in the Philippines, was something we should never forget.
“The attack was the shock that brought the country to its knees. But we all went to work — women went to work in the aircraft factories, everyone showed up in different ways. It showed what fantastic, almost impossible, things a country can do when the citizens work together.”
Shortly after Victory in the Pacific Day was declared on Sept. 2, 1945, Dill was sent straight from the Philippines to South Korea, where he was stationed until 1946. He returned to the San Diego area to complete his education as part of the GI Bill, and later obtained his MBA from Pepperdine University. He has lived in LCF for about 33 years, volunteering for many years at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and participating in archery groups.
Dill said he took heart this week in the positive responses from his recent post, including those from descendants of Rosie the Riveter. But he’d like people to remember how the nation pulled together.
“Unfortunately, in the past few years we have forgotten we truly are all in this together, it’s a sad thing,” he said. “But we pulled together as a nation; pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps. … Together we were able to do some amazing things. Remember Pearl Harbor.”