WWII veteran recalls life after Pearl Harbor - WSMV News 4

WWII veteran recalls life after Pearl Harbor

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Lee Adair now lives in McEwen, TN. (WSMV) Lee Adair now lives in McEwen, TN. (WSMV)
McEWEN, TN (WSMV) -

A 93-year-old man sitting on his porch in McEwen, TN, on a hot summer day doesn’t draw a lot of attention.

But listen to Lee Adair, the son of an Irish immigrant, and you’ll learn that he once saw the whole world change right before his eyes.

“What did you think when you heard about Pearl Harbor?” Channel 4’s Rudy Kalis asked.

“I was shocked,” Adair said. “So the next day I went down to my high school principal and said, ‘Tom, this is my last day. I’m quitting. I’m joining the Navy tomorrow.’”

Adair spent World War II on a troop carrier, the Fremont, in the Pacific as a gunner. His primary job was as a landing craft operator in the Pacific, transporting teenage soldiers to the beaches of hell.

“Drop right in the water. The snipers got them as soon as they dropped the gate. They laid right on the deck,” Adair said.

“I don’t think we realize how awful that is unless you’re there and experience it,” Kalis said.

“No. I hate to cry,” Adair said.

“I’ve seen that and didn’t like that. They’d slide them down there,” he added.

Adair was in Tokyo Harbor in 1945 onboard the Fremont, alongside the Missouri, and watched the Japanese surrender to General Douglas MacArthur.

“I thought to myself, this is history being made, you know. It’s over with,” Adair said.

After the war, Adair, a cowboy at heart, built a hugely successful stable and horse training business in California. He lived in Hawaii for a time before buying land in Middle Tennessee and retiring.

He may be 93, but the memories never fade.

“I can see that torpedo going right past the bow of the Fremont, and the wake of the torpedo,” Adair said. “There were times when I got in a tough spot, I’d say, ‘Lord, bail me out of this one.’”

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