SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- Morton Mallin remembers the bombing of Pearl Harbor as though it happened yesterday.
He was a 15-year-old high school sophomore in 1941 when the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on a United States naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; when then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent out a call to action, he knew it was for him.
"He spoke directly to kids," Mallin said Wednesday. He and other World War II veterans addressed a crowd at the Sharonville Convention Center in an event honoring the 75th anniversary of the attack. "The youngsters. He said, ‘You people have to prepare for the fighting. You have to stay well, stay healthy. We need you for the service.'"
Mallin enlisted in the United States Army as soon as he graduated from high school in 1943. At 18, he fought in Germany with the 86th Infantry Division -- and was quickly forced to abandon the fear he had felt at home.
"I climbed over a lot of dead people," he said. "I saw ugly scenes on the battlefield. At that age, you’re not afraid. You take orders and you keep your mouth shut."
Mallin’s unit fought in Germany for 42 days, he said, before accomplishing their mission for the Allies. Their next scheduled stop was Tokyo.
"We were scheduled to be right in front of the invasion of Japan," he said.
If they had reached Pacific shores, Mallin believes he would have died. Instead, while he and his compatriots were en route to Japan, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- effectively ending the war. Mallin then traveled to the Phillipines to help with post-war reconstruction.
The Urology Group hosted Wednesday’s event, which honored more than 75 World War II veterans and invited them to share their stories. According to The Urology Group, the event was the day’s largest gathering of World War II veterans outside of Hawaii.