SARASOTA -- At age 97, Pearl Harbor survivor Troy Sullivan was easily the oldest veteran who attended Monday's Pearl Harbor memorial dinner.
On Dec, 7, 1941, he was on the quarterdeck of the light cruiser USS Saint Louis awaiting permission to go ashore in Honolulu when he saw planes approaching.
"All these planes started coming in and we thought they were American planes," said Sullivan, who now lives in Sarasota.
Sullivan click his heels and stood at attention, saluting as the planes passed over.
But he soon realized they were Japanese planes as they passed overhead and released torpedoes toward Battleship Row.
"They flew right over us at 30 feet," Sullivan said.
Also attending the memorial dinner, hosted by The Law Place, a law firm at 2445 Fruitville Road, in partnership with Goodwill Manasota, were at least three other World War II veterans, including another Pearl Harbor survivor, Bob O'Neill, 90. of Bradenton, Bill Iredale, 88, of Lakewood Ranch, and Alvin Grossman, 94, of The Meadows in Sarasota County.
They and veterans of more recent wars each had stories that they could tell.
Iredale served in the Caribbean patrolling for enemy submarines, and in the Pacific, landing Marines at Iwo Jima, and soldiers on Leyte and Luzon.
O'Neill, Sullivan, Grossman, and Iredale each had an easy camraderie.
"I think this is a great way of bringing the military people back together," Sullivan said.
David Haenel, president of The Law Place, said his firm plans to repeat the event next year, which will be the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
"We feel very passionate about veterans and especially the World War II guys. This is something we will definitely be doing every year. It's very gratifying to be able to hear the stories from these guys. There are only 2,500 veterans from Pearl Harbor left, at best. I don't want to read about them in a book. I want to hear their stories," Haenel said.
Pastor David Stone of First Brethren Church offered a prayer, mentioning Pearl Harbor and many other battles where American lives have been lost.
"We pray for peace in our nation and around the world," Stone said.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.