By: Lanetra Bennett I Eyewitness News
December 6, 2019
QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Saturday is the 78th anniversary of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy Base near Honolulu, Hawaii.
The attack propelled the United States into World War II.
More than 2,400 Americans were killed. One of them was a man from Quincy.
Reliford Fields reportedly was the only African American from Gadsden County who died in the Pearl Harbor attack.
He was a mess attendant in the Navy.
"He said, mama, I'm going away to help you. If I die, I'll help you. If I live, I'll help you. She received a military pension until her death in 1968." Said, his 81-year-old niece, Joyce Fields Redding
Redding was three years old when Fields left their hometown. When she was about 12, she told her mom about her vague memory of that day.
"I said, I remember a man carrying me in his arms up to the train station. She said, that was your uncle who died when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor." Redding recalled.
Redding says her father, which was Fields' oldest brother, dreamed of the sailor's death two days before the Pearl Harbor attack.
"It was revealed to my father, James Fields, in a dream, that his brother came and talked to him about it. And it did occur like a surprise attack."
Redding's sister, Geraldine Fields Price, was only a year old. She says their father shared many memories of Fields.
"Every time he would go to church, he would get up and testify about his brother. He did that until his health failed. The young people in church say, alright, he's about to get up and testify about his brother." She said.
Price says her uncle wanted to name her Rose Mary, but her grandmother ended up naming her Geraldine.
"Mother stated if she had known he was going to get killed in Pearl Harbor, she would've named me that. But, I was glad they didn't." She said as she laughed.
Fields' only daughter was two years old when he left for Pearl Harbor.
The 80-year-old still lives in Newark, New Jersey.
Fields' nieces say they want to work on getting county officials to add Fields' name to the war memorial at the Gadsden County Courthouse.