Their number has been reduced to three and only two were able to make the Pearl Harbor survivors commemoration Sunday in Mission — marking the 73rd anniversary of the attack that brought the United States into World War II.
All these years later, though, Dorwin Lamkin, 92, and Edmund Russell, 97, can vividly — and with some humor — describe that morning and the their thoughts and feelings as the attack unfolded in front of them. Missing from the reunion this year was Jack Carson, 91, who was ill on Sunday.
Quinn Appletoft, now a freshman in college, made the trip home to preside over the commemoration, marking his seventh year in leading the ceremony.Appletoft and his family organized the current program while he was still in grade school at Highlands.
“Anyone who says they weren’t scared is lying,” Russell said, responding to questions about Dec. 7, 1941. Lamkin said his entire body was consumed with the question, “Am I going to make it?” He found peace, he said, by resigning himself to think, “I’m a dead duck.”
Both men had enlisted in 1940. Lamkin, of Mission, was in the Navy for six years and was on the USS Nevada at Pearl Harbor. He went on to serve on the USS San Francisco that saw considerable combat action in the war. Russell, of Lenexa, was in the Army Air Corps and served seven years on active duty and decades in the reserves. He was later sent to India and China.
Even without the usual contingent of middle school history students, a large crowd turned out the honor the survivors and listen to their story. Appletoft said he hopes to make the trip home again next year to lead another commemoration.