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Mainer who survived Pearl Harbor: ‘I could have got him with a potato’

AUGUSTA, Maine — It’s been 75 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but Floyd Keniston and Ruth Parker remember it in vivid detail.

Keniston of Hollis and Parker of Camden didn’t know each other that horrible morning while the bombs rained down but met each other Wednesday at the State House, where they were honored by lawmakers.

Keniston was a U.S. Navy sailor aboard the USS Argonne. Parker was a radar reader as a member of the Women’s Air Raid Defense of the Hawaiian Islands. Both could see the smoke rising into the sky on Pearl Harbor day.

Keniston said he was aboard the USS Argonne looking for his toothbrush when he heard the first explosions. He said he rushed to the deck just in time to see a Japanese aircraft streak by just off the ship’s hull.

“I could have got him with a potato, but I didn’t have any potatoes,” recalled Keniston. “I didn’t have any ammo or anything, but if I did, I could have shot that guy right out of the air.”

Parker’s experience was different. She and her husband lived away from the attack, but they could see and hear the battle. Her husband bolted out of their home, leaving her in emotional agony.

“The planes flew right over our house,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about myself. I was thinking about my husband.”

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Mainer who survived Pearl Harbor: ‘I could have got him with a potato’,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Christopher Cousins, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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