WWII veterans from Ohio gather to mark Dec. 7

By The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Ohio’s governor ordered flags at half-staff Wednesday, a tattered U.S. flag that flew at Pearl Harbor was on display at an Ohio museum, and dozens of World War II veterans in the Cincinnati region recounted their experiences during commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack.

The participating veterans, who served in different wartime roles, were sharing their stories with Princeton High School students gathering personal accounts for a living history project. Cincinnati-based The Urology Group hosted the veterans’ gathering at the Sharonville Convention Center.

Charles Geraci, who said he was wounded three times after storming Omaha Beach as a soldier on D-Day, was gratified to be part of the remembrance event.

“What I fought for was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Geraci, 92, of Norwood. “I’m really thankful that people do remember that people like us helped do that (for) our country.”

He said he has been discouraged at times over the years, but he feels optimistic now.

“We are still good. We’re a good country. We’re a good nation. And we’re going to survive,” Geraci said.

Howard Requardt, 91, of Edgewood, Kentucky, fought on Okinawa and in the Philippines as a Marine. A high school student at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, he knew it meant his life was about to change.

“I just knew we were in the war right after that,” he recalled. “A lot of my friends were going in (the service) and when I became of age, 18, it was my duty to go.”

He said he is grateful to have survived battling the Japanese in the Pacific.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Requardt said. “Really, any of them who made it through, the Lord was watching over them.”

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton displayed a flag from the USS St. Louis, attacked at Pearl Harbor. The same flag flew again over the USS Iowa in Tokyo Bay in 1945 as Japanese officials signed surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri.

“That flag represents the beginning and the end of World War II for the United States,” museum curator Jeff Duford told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s the Alpha and the Omega.”

Conservators brought the flag out for the day to display alongside other Pearl Harbor artifacts.

“We remember the lives lost that tragic December morning and we owe all men and women of our military a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay,” Gov. John Kasich said in a resolution for the remembrance day.