By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 7, 2017
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- 76 years ago, a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces killed more than 2,400 Americans.
"I was in high school. I couldn't believe it," says Hobie Hodge.
A day which will live in infamy, according to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941.
It would change Hodge's life. He skipped high school graduation to enlist in the Army at 17, and was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division.
"I prayed a lot in the service," says Hodge. "Every time I jumped out one of those airplanes I prayed."
He suited up in a helmet he brought back from the war, unlike many of his fellow comrades that never came home.
"To see your friends killed, it's devastating and mind-numbing," says Hodge.
He's now in his 90s, and says no school history book comes close to telling the true toll of war.
"We were poor and the heroes were those guys who didn't make it back," says Hodge.
Many painful memories and many lessons, 76 years after the day that started it all.
"It taught me to stay alive," says Hodge. "It taught me to never turn my back on my friends. That's a lesson I'll never forget."