My Idaho: Pearl Harbor survivor remembers her experience 80 years later

Rusty Anderson, Pearl Harbor Survivor
Rusty Anderson, Pearl Harbor
Posted at 12:49 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 14:49:23-05

BOISE, Idaho — Eighty years ago, the bombing of Pearl Harbor lunged the United States in the second world war, changing the course of history forever. An Idaho woman can vividly remember as a nine-year-old girl hearing the first sounds of war.

"If I hadn't been there myself, I wouldn't have believed it," said Rusty Anderson.

Rusty was reading the Sunday comics with her brother when they heard a horrible explosion. Unaware of what was happening, the two went outside to see what was going on.

"Then there were two planes, way up high, and then all of a sudden, bullets around us. Not one of them hit us, which I can't believe either," said Rusty.

Rusty's family lived at an area high school where her father was the principal. The school was located just northwest of Pearl Harbor, giving them a front-row seat to history.

Related: National Archives Museum to hold online screening of documentary to commemorate 80th anniversary of attack on Pearl Harbor

"It's so surreal. Of all the bullets all over the campus, there was one piece of shrapnel by our house, three feet from the back steps. So somebody is looking out for us."

Below is a photograph of Rusty on Waikiki Beach, smiling and enjoying life in the pacific. This picture was taken just one month before the bombings.

Rusty Anderson, Pearl Harbor

Two months after the bombings, Rusty's father decided his family would be safe on the mainland. The trip was long and didn't come without risk.

"Took 10 days instead of five, it was a big convoy and they went back and forth instead of going straight," said Rusty. "Thinking they were going to fool the Japanese."

Rusty's son Mark is still amazed to listen to his mom tell the stories of her childhood and her journey that made its way to the Gem State.