EURE, N.C. - Cecil Taylor was an Army veteran who was stationed at Schofield Barracks, just north of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu.
The week of December 7, 1941, was supposed to be his last week before his time with the army expired. That was also the same day Japanese warplanes conducted a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and military installations on the island.
He said he had just returned to his bunker that morning after celebrating his last week with fellow soldiers. He said as soon as he was going to go to bed, that’s when he heard the attack.
"That was about two, about two-and-a-half blocks away from me. A bomb went off - boom,” Taylor recalled, witnessing Japanese warplanes flying overhead. “He came back and raised up, dropped right down where the buildings were."
He recalled the planes dropping bombs and shooting their guns. He and the soldiers tried to take cover and he would soon learn he was not going to go home anymore.
He would also learn the United States was about to enter World War II. He recalled going into Honolulu to help defend the island and said service members of all branches were being rounded up by the military.
"No matter what it was, a Marine, Army, any kind of military with any kind of uniform on, they were grabbing them,” Taylor explained, “putting them -- they had three or four trucks, and they were heading to battle."
The attack would kill roughly 2,400 people on Oahu, both service members and civilians. The United States would enter World War II after President Franklin Roosevelt made his “Day of Infamy” speech in front of Congress the next day.
Cecil was reenlisted for another five years in the Army and would fight in battles such as the Guadalcanal campaign. He would fight until the United States defeated Japan.
After this story ran Monday, Cecil's daughter told News 3 her father passed away after watching himself on TV. He was 100 years old and lived with his wife in Eure, with his daughter right next door.
He received proclamations for his service and for being one of a few surviving World War II veterans back in January. His community also held a birthday parade outside his house in September when he turned 100.