Borne The Battle 149: WWII Weekend Part One: Pearl Harbor Survivors Richard Schimmel and William Bonelli


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Last weekend, Reading, Pennsylvania, turned back the clock. For three days (June 7-9), the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum brought in WWII Veterans, WWII reenactors and a full air show to their regional airfield. The reenactors represented every theatre, every enemy, period music and even an FDR impersonator.

More importantly, WWII days included an impressive VIP guest list. Over twenty WWII Veterans attend every year to recount their experiences. On this episode of “Borne the Battle,” we focus on two survivors of Pearl Harbor.

Richard (Dick) Schimmel was one of the first soldiers to ever work with radar. He enlisted in 1940 and was shipped out to Hawaii to join the newly formed Signal Aircraft Warning unit as a plotter and switchboard operator. “It was so new, nobody knew what it was,” Schimmel joked. He wasn’t on duty but was stationed on Pearl Harbor during the attack. When he realized the island was under attack, he ran to his post.

William Bonelli was an enlisted B-17 and B-29 mechanic at Hickam Field when the attacks occurred. In 1944, he got his opportunity to fly the “Flying Fortress,” including 30 missions over Italy (21 as squadron leader) and later received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.

William Bonelli’s Recounts Joining the Military

Enjoy this episode, and listen to both of these unique accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Starting on June, 26th we will return to the WWII Weekend for part two.

More Survivors Sharing Their Pearl Harbor Experiences

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Author

Tanner Iskra

Tanner Iskra has been a video producer for the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team since October of 2018. He is a Marine Corps Veteran, having served as a Combat Videographer. During his military career, he deployed to Iraq in 2005 as well as to Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, France and Spain as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. Tanner is a graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and holds a Certificate in Military Motion Media from the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University.

Comments

  1. تعمیر چیلر    

    They are hero!
    I love this one.
    Thank you very much.

  2. Brian Bushbeck    

    Very moving, How our country come together

  3. Don Smith    

    John Anderson was aboard the USS Arizona when the Japanese struck. He was serving on board the same ship with his twin brother. John has passed, but in 2011 I interviewed John to asked him to tell his story. Here’s the complete interview without editing. A little boring at the beginning because I have him identify himself on tape first and he tells the story of how he wound up to being on the USS Arizona on December 7th, 1941 and he tells a detailed story of what he experienced that day. Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/137603868

  4. Thomas Montgomery    

    I was born on that day. Served in the Navy in Japan. Always moved me to hear real stories of veterans who were there.

  5. Patricia Cunanan    

    I love hearing all these old stories. My father is a survivor of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. He can not hear these stories as his hearing is terrible. Thank you for honoring these courageous men.

  6. Henry McCabe    

    I would like to contact the Author Mr. Tanner Lskra about a photograph I have that concerns the crew of the Battleship Arizona BB-39.
    Thank You
    Henry McCabe

  7. Grant Fisk    

    I have two 2 hour DVD videos, of an interview made by the Witness to War Foundation, of my Uncle MCPO Frank Noonan. He was a Survivor of the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. In them he describes the events of that day as they applied to him. He was the driving factor for my enlisting in 1975. I will forever be indebted to him. I just wish I had taken the time to tell him this.

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