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Pearl Harbor vets hope movie gets it right

May 21, 2001

Pearl Harbor vets hope movie gets it right



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

When the movie "Pearl Harbor" hits theaters Friday, a handful of Washington County residents will be judging it for more than just entertainment.

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They'll be viewing it as history they lived through.

"I hope the movie does it justice," said Norman H. Bentz, 82, of Hagerstown.

Bentz was drafted into the Army eight months before the Japanese sneak attack of Dec. 7, 1941.

He and other soldiers stationed at Fort Kamehameha, Hawaii, at the mouth of the channel leading into Pearl Harbor, thought the airplanes and explosions they heard that morning were just a training exercise.

"It didn't bother us for the first couple of minutes because we were used to that," he said.

But then he saw a plane emblazoned with the Japanese rising red sun flying just above the tree-tops .

"From then on it was chaos for awhile," he said.

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Amos H. Anderson, 83, of Halfway, said curiosity is drawing him to the big screen, although he sees few movies. He plans to hand out flag pins to moviegoers that say, "Remember Pearl Harbor."

"I might even go crazy and wear my muumuu," said his wife, Crena Anderson, 76.

Amos Anderson, who was stationed at Fort DeRussey near Honolulu, is aware that the movie isn't just about the war. There's also a love story.

"Hollywood has to get their little touch in," he said.

But he's hoping it will capture the horrible aftermath that he saw when his artillery unit drove by Pearl Harbor on the way to its battle station shortly after the raid ended.

"It's history, even though it was sad," he said.

Thomas H. Gilliam, 80, said he didn't think much of the 1970 movie about the bombing, "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

And from what he has read about "Pearl Harbor," he isn't impressed. He's especially annoyed by a love scene in a hangar.

"They always have to add something that's ridiculous. They have to add all that romance so people will go see it, but it's not like the real thing," said Gilliam, who was stationed at Fort Kamehameha as a medical corps worker.

Added Bentz, "I hope they don't overdo the romantic part. It wasn't romantic."

While those Pearl Harbor veterans said they'll go see the movie despite its possible flaws, one local veteran said he'll stay away.

"It brings back too many memories for me," said Bertrand L. Iseminger Sr., 87, of Funkstown, who served in the Army for 27 years.

On the day of the bombing, Iseminger was planning to play tennis at beautiful Waikiki Beach when he heard the planes flying overhead, where he was stationed. Even when he saw the red sun it didn't sink in.

"I said they're sure getting realistic with these maneuvers and about that time the bombs started dropping," he said.

Iseminger drove back to Schofield Barracks in his Ford Coupe.

"When I got to the barracks I had five guys with me and I don't remember picking one up. That's how scared we were," he said.

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