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Pearl Harbor survivor honors World War II veteran President George Bush at commemoration ceremony

Sponsored by Wreaths Across America and the George Bush Library, the ceremony began exactly 80 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Wreaths Across America and the George Bush Library held a ceremony Tuesday commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Dec. 7 attacks on Pearl Harbor by honoring President Bush, a World War II veteran.

Horace B. Hamilton of Caldwell was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attacks. At just 17, Hamilton joined the navy where he eventually found himself on the U.S. Phoenix ship, arriving at Pearl Harbor three days before tragedy struck the island.

That Sunday morning, Hamilton was sitting on the fantail of the ship when he saw Japanese planes approaching, initially mistaking them for American pilots, the machines began dropping torpedos and bombs.

“The ships caught on fire, then the oil caught on fire, then the men tried to swim through firey oil," Hamilton said. "I’ll never forget those things.”

Looking back, Hamilton thinks about the lives that were lost on that fateful day in December. 

“It was a terrible waste of human life and of the destruction of our ships," Hamilton said.

Hamilton wants people to remember the sacrifices made by the soldiers at Pearl Harbor and in World War II. That includes former President George H.W. Bush, who was a Navy pilot during that time.

Hamilton laid a wreath at the gravesites of President and Mrs. Bush on Thursday, honoring their sacrifices made in World War II. 

Hamilton said younger generations need to remember the sacrifices made in World War II and we still fight for freedom today. 

"Some young people don't even know why we fought World War II. They don't even know who the aggressors were. It's pitiful that the young people of today don't know these things," he said. "Our government should have some sort of a program to teach these young people not to forget history and to know who World War II was fought for and how it was fought. There's a lot more these young people don't know."