On Dec. 7, 1941, Andy Antosik and Leroy Manning were two 18-year-old novice sailors and friends, both from Lynch, Ky., and both serving on battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor.
Antosik was a mess cook on the USS Tennessee, and Manning was a seaman apprentice aboard the USS Arizona. Both ships were among seven moored and lined up neatly in Battleship Row.
"We were supposed to go out that Sunday, just go out to the beach and raise hell, just like everybody else," Antosik, 90, remembered Thursday at his Lahaina residence. "Being a kid, 18, we couldn't do much . . . Maybe go down to the YMCA and sneak a few drinks here and there. Do what sailors do."
Lahaina resident Andy Antosik explains the locations of ships moored in Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
A view of the entire photo shows Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island in what appears to be the early stages of the first wave of 360 Japanese warplanes that crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet and killed 2,400 Americans.
Then, at 7:55 a.m., everything changed. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet, unleashing bombs and torpedoes. Five of eight battleships, three destroyers and seven other ships were sent to the bottom of the harbor or severely damaged. More than 200 aircraft were destroyed, 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 wounded.
Manning was one of 1,177 crewmen to die on the Arizona, now a memorial to those who died that day.
"He didn't make it. He's still there," Antosik said.
But Antosik lived to tell the tale of his survival, even becoming something of a celebrity at his Puamana complex, where he sometimes draws the attention of journalists seeking interviews for Pearl Harbor anniversary stories.
On the wall of what his caregiver calls his "man cave," Antosik has a large aerial photo of Pearl Harbor on the morning of the attack. Taken by a Japanese Zero pilot flying in from the southwest and banking left toward Ford Island, the grainy, somewhat blurry photo shows a couple of aircraft swooping over Battleship Row in what appears to be the early moments of the attack.
A tall column of water from an exploded bomb appears near the battleships Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland and Oklahoma.
To the left is the as-yet-untouched USS Arizona moored next to the Vestal, a repair ship.
"This is where the Arizona is. That's where the Arizona Memorial is," he said, pointing. "I was on the Tennessee, right directly in front of it. I was right there. I was down below decks."
The Tennessee was moored between Ford Island and the West Virginia, and its position may have helped save Antosik's life.
"The West Virginia was on the outboard side of us," he said, gesturing. "And they took all the planes coming this way, dropped torpedoes. And, see, they (the Japanese pilots) couldn't come from the island to drop torpedoes, so we was safe."
From another direction, the neighboring Arizona took the brunt of the attack.
"You can see a couple of airplanes still there," Antosik said, pointing again to the photo.
"I was a mess cook," he said, and had just finished serving food to sailors and was cleaning up when "I heard a big noise."
At first, he didn't know if it was an explosion, but the next thing he knew members of the ship's band were rushing to get below deck.
"And those people come down that ladder - head first some of 'em," Antosik said. "They were topside when there was strafing and bombs started coming down."
Then the ship's officers sounded general quarters, and all crewmen were to report to their battle stations. For Antosik, "mine was up in turret one," he said.
There was a lot of confusion, he said.
"Nobody knew what was going on," he said. "We weren't expecting anything."
He made his way to his battle station below deck, not exposing himself to the rain of death outside.
After the attack's first wave ended, the "all clear" signal was given, and crew members went outside for a while, he said.
"I came out when volunteers were needed to clear the awning on the forecastle because the awning was on fire," he recalled. "The stern of the ship was aflame, and we kept the propellers going to keep the burning water away from our ship.
"All I could see was smoke and flames in all directions," he said. "During that time, the second Japanese attack was underway. We all raced for cover under the turret overhang."
"Fifty people jumped under that thing to keep from being strafed," he said.
"Everything burnable was on fire," Antosik said. Nearby was the West Virginia, and "I could see it slowly sinking, tied up alongside us."
The Tennessee was hit by two bombs, he said. "We lost five guys."
After the attack ended, the sailors worked for days cleaning up. Antosik said that the crew remained aboard the Tennessee, which was not severely damaged. He couldn't recall how he slept the night after the attack. The magnitude of the calamity took a while to sink in.
"I mean something like that. You're trained to react, and you really don't realize what the hell's going on until after it's over," he said. "Then it hits you. Oh, God, what went on?"
The Tennessee was stuck at its mooring for nine days, Antosik said. Eventually, engineers needed to blast away quay walls to free the Tennessee, Maryland and Oklahoma.
The Tennessee went to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard in Washington for an overhaul, he said.
Antosik was transferred to the USS Indiana, which was a South Dakota class battleship commissioned in April 1942. He said that he joined the war aboard the Indiana, seeing action at Guadalcanal, New Caledonia, Truk atoll and other Pacific islands, bombarding them to soften enemy defenses for Marines beach landings.
Eventually, Antosik was transferred stateside, receiving training in weapons fire control and helping to commission the destroyer USS Wiley in February 1945.
He left the Navy in 1945, but returned to serve again from 1951 to 1955 during the Korean War. Eventually, he worked for 29 years at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in Southern California. He started as a mechanic and worked his way up to being an engineering technician.
He was active in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, retired in 1986 and moved to Maui in 1987. Antosik said that he had visited Maui with his wife and mother-in-law after one of the association's anniversary gatherings on Oahu.
"I made the mistake of bringing my wife to Maui," he said. "She fell in love with the place. Her mother was with us, and she did, too. They both decided this is where we're going to be."
His wife, Eunice, died last year.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Antosik felt animosity toward the Japanese people, he said. But, in "later years, I figured, 'Hell, they had nothing to do with it.' ''
As far as he knows, he's the only Pearl Harbor survivor living on Maui.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.