Pearl Harbor Attack Changed Lives Forever - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Pearl Harbor Attack Changed Lives Forever

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When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Walter Dickerman had no idea that day would change his life forever.

He was thousands of miles away and only 17 years old, but he was about to grow up very quickly.

World War II had begun for America.

"They drafted me out of high school," Dickerman said.

Dickerman's three older brothers had already enlisted in the military.

Two years later, he was a tailgunner on a B-17, fighting the Germans.

"And then we took off for our first mission and we were shot down," Dickerman said. "Five were captured, four killed, and I got away."

Dickerman says he survived 63 days running from the Germans, in the sub-zero temperatures of northern France, sometimes fighting off their dogs and even hiding in the freezing Rhine River.

"I did everything wrong," Dickerman said. "Everybody else did things exactly the way the Army said and that's why they didn't make it."

When the crew parachuted from their plane, they were told to wait ten seconds before pulling the ripcord.

Dickerman pulled his right away.

"So, they fell over here and I was way on the hill, over there," Dickerman said. "Where would you go if you wanted to catch the most guys? The Germans got them first."

This morning, 71 years after World War II began for America,

The 89-year-old Dickerman was honored with a flag-raising ceremony at the VA Hospital in Reno.

He tells us it was worth a million bucks.

Written by Paul Nelson
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