Weston World War II vet remembers day of glory

A Weston World War II vet spent Veterans Day sharing his special story with News 12 Connecticut.

Hal Matthews, 85, joined the U.S. Navy as a young man and came out a war hero. He served on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill, an aircraft carrier based in the South Pacific. The carrier was attacked early on the morning of May 11, 1945 when Matthews says the men were either still sleeping or doing their respective jobs.

Matthews says two kamikazes hit the carrier?s deck within minutes of each other and he and others were trapped below. He remembers feeling the ship rock. Fire consumed the ship and killed more than 300 and injured thousands.

"We ripped off our T-shirts and whatever pieces of clothing we could find, and dropped it into liquid to act as a filter so the smoke would not suffocate us,? Matthews says.

The 85-year-old refuses to call himself a hero, even though the headlines do. Matthews says he spent many years trying to forget about the war until recently. A distant cousin brought him a 1940s newspaper article from his hometown paper that moved him. A story ran with Matthews? picture and an account of how he directed his fellow crew members to safety after the attack.

Hal recently talked to students at a Weston school about his experience in battle. He says he hopes his story gives young people a better understanding of where the country has been.

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