Ed Coyne, 94, was just a teenager when Pear Harbor was attacked, but he says he vividly remembers the iron clad solidarity that spread throughout the country afterwards.
“The recruitment stations, it was lined up for blocks – you’d think they were giving away cars or something. It was so crowded,” Coyne said.
At the time, he was just 17-years-old but he still wanted to do his part and support his country. He tells WCBS 880 he staged a hunger strike at home until his parents agreed to sign him into the Navy.
After enlisting, he was placed aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid – which was attacked more times by Kamikaze pilots than any other ship during the war.
Coyne was on the flight deck when a Kamikaze hit its mark in one instance.
“They were fighting the fires and another plane came in and flew in and that’s when we really lost a lot of people,” he explains.
He remembers losing one of his own friends as they worked to extinguish the flames, but he says the Intrepid was too strong to go down.
“The Japanese did everything they could to us, but they couldn’t sink us. To me, a lot of what has to do with the reason they couldn’t sink us, because when we were in danger, the sailors and the crewmen stuck together and make sure it didn’t get sunk by putting out the fires and doing what had to be done,” Coyne said.
Since the end of the war 75 years ago, the USS Intrepid has become a floating Naval museum in New York City.
Over the years, Coyne has visited the ship several times and has even helped the museum share the story of his fellow crew members, their service and their sacrifice.
“This ship is history,” Coyne says.