Machias WWII Veteran packs for trip to Pearl Harbor

Coles prepares for trip

MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On a rainy morning in Machias, Robert Coles' longtime friend and travel companion Dennis Boyd is getting all their packing done for their big trip to Pearl Harbor.  

"short sleeve short for him,  pairs of slacks," says Boyd as he rifles through the piles of clothes he's packing.

He's doing it all under the watchful eye of  Coles, the 92 year old World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor was sporting his dress uniform and sitting in an easy chair in his living room.

"The word anxiety is playing a big factor in how I'm feeling,"  Boyd admits.  Robert Coles is a little anxious too, but excited about the chance he might connect with anyone he served with.

"I hope and I would love to be brought to tears meeting old friends as opposed to being moved to tears by being awarded I don't need any more awards," said Coles.
 
He also hopes that someone with the navy thanks him for his actions aboard the USS Bagley. 
He says that when the attack started, he fired a .50 caliber machine gun upon, and hit, the first two Japanese planes that came by his ship. He wasn't trained to be a machine gunner, he just happened to be near one when the attack started.
 
"I reacted I don't know why I did this I really don't to this day I don't know why the hell did you run up to that machine gun you don't know the first thing about machine guns you haven't been taught," he said.
 
His actions are not part of the official record of the battle. Dennis Boyd feels that's a shame
 
"He did what I think is a heroic act.  He did it without reservations without knowledge of the possible repercussions,"  Boyd, who is himself a 20 year navy veteran said.
 
"I hope somewhere in the process of being out there that somebody from the navy will come down and say good job sir I appreciate your effort that day thank you very much.  If that's all we get ok,  my goal is to try and get a little more," Boyd said.
 
Both are looking forward to a number of events scheduled throughout the week including a gala on the evening of December 6th and a parade on the December 7th.
 
But what both see as the signature event is the Remembrance Day Commemoration on the morning of the 7th, which takes place at the time of the attacks.
 
The navy is expecting  4 thousand veterans to be gathered on Pier 7 at Pearl Harbor for what promises to be a very moving, and a very solemn ceremony.
 
"I just want closure, that would be the word closure," said Coles.
 
They leave for Pearl Harbor on Saturday, December 3rd.  We'll follow them and have reports from Hawaii through next week both on-air and online and on our NEWS CENTER mobile apps.

Copyright 2016 WLBZ


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