At 20-years-old, Harold Mainer was serving at Pearl Harbor when the bombings began on December 7, 1941. On Friday, Dec. 7 at North Little Rock's Maritime Museum, Mainer was recognized for his service, 77 years after 2,403 lives were lost when Japan attacked the base.
“Today is the best day I’ve had in several years,” Mainer said. “I laughed more today than I’ve laughed in a long time.”
Harold Mainer, now 97 years old remembers getting ready to go to shore to celebrate a friend’s birthday. That’s when he recalls the first three bombs fell.
“I just tried to do what I could,” Mainer said. “I saw the Arizona blow up, I saw the Oklahoma turn over.”
Mainer, born in Paris, Arkansas to the son of a coal miner, was serving aboard the USS Helena stationed at Pearl Harbor. Minutes after the bombings began, his ship was torpedoed, lifted out of the water. Twenty men were killed immediately. Mainer survived and jumped into action
"Get the sick and the dead off the ship," Mainer remembered.
He wants us to remember that day.
“It could happen again. You’ve got to keep it in mind, that’s what you need to remember for so it won’t happen again," he said.
After receiving an honorable discharge in 1947, Mainer worked for the postal service in Fort Smith. He married and had 3 children.
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith declared December 7, 2018, Harold Mainer Day so his story will always be remembered.