Minnesota veterans remember first moments of Pearl Harbor attack

Moments before the first bombs dropped, St. Paul native Richard Thill fired the first shots.

"The first shot missed because the target was so close," said Thill.

That target was a Japanese mini-submarine.

Thill and his fellow Minnesota crewmates on the USS Ward spotted it just outside of the harbor.

"And they were so close the range finder could tell us how close or range or anything because we're looking right at it, you know it's a 150 feet away and they had the bore sight the thing - just look down the thing and fire," he said. 

The gun they fired now sits near the Capitol in St. Paul.

The sub it sank sits at the bottom of the ocean.

"It was pretty surprising, of course, and very threatening and we were pretty worried about what was going to happen because so many planes came later,” Thill said.

"The planes came in at five minutes before 8 a.m., and it seemed like the sky was full of planes," said Victor Paradis, another Pearl Harbor survivor.

The attack lasted less than two hours, but it took a heavy toll.

History has forever recorded the ships and aircraft lost.

At a St. Paul ceremony, 75 years later, veterans honored the 2,403 lives lost, which included 27 Minnesotans.

75 years later, Governor Dayton presents proclamations to the living in full honor to the dead.

It may be Pearl Harbor day in Minnesota, but to the survivors it's every day.

“I'm very proud of this country,” said Thill. “I'm a real citizen and there isn't anything I wouldn't do to help the country."