Mario Chiarolanza, 21, was headed on foot to church when he heard terrifying sounds and realized something horrible had happened.
Unaware of details, he quickly found himself in the middle of an effort to help transport injured people to shelter where they could get medical attention.
What began as a relaxed, somewhat typical day in Hawaii rapidly turned into chaos.
"I felt shocked, dismayed," he said and recalled events that unfolded the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Chiarolanza described the historic, surprise military strike with such precision, it was hard to believe the event happened seven decades ago.
On Sunday, Chiarolanza, now 91, of Lafayette Hill, was at the National Guard Armory in Plymouth Meeting for the 2nd Annual Veterans Fair.
The event drew hundreds of visitors and honored U.S. veterans who served in conflicts and wars including World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I enlisted in the (U.S.) Air Force ... in 1940," Chiarolanza said. "I didn't want to get drafted."
While in the service, he worked as an aircraft mechanic, he said.
"On the morning of the attack, I was in civilian clothes going to church," he said. Soon after, he was part of a rescue effort. "We helped to get the wounded to a safe place...We just did what we had to do."
After all the years that passed, Chiarolanza still seems amazed he escaped injury that fateful day.
"If I hadn't gone to church, I'd have probably been killed," he said. "I never got to church."
Editor's note: Sunday's fair included many humble veterans who shared memories of their remarkable military service. Check back for more stories and photos from the event.