By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Early on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, the crew of the U.S.S Ralph Talbot was sleeping in. Sunday was their only day off and they were taking advantage of it, all except for water tender Paul Stroud, who had just joined the Navy at age 17 a few months before.

I had just eaten breakfast and gone top side, he said. He was by himself on deck when the sound of three torpedo planes zoomed overhead.

In seconds, explosions ripped apart near-by ships and filled the air with smoke and debris.

Four minutes later, we had our guns going - thats not bad, he said.

Stroud ran below deck shouting We are being bombed, so the crew wouldnt dismiss the air raid sirens as a drill, he said.

The Ralph Talbot and its crew was one of more than 30 destroyers in the crowded Pearl Harbor. All the ships had been there for months doing maneuvers.

War had not been declared before that day, but the United States was now inextricably part of it. It was a day that will live in infamy, said Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The U.S.S. Arizona was bombed that morning killing 1,177 men. Docked in a row of five other battleships, the Arizona was not the only one to be hit.

Strouds ship was able to make it out of the harbor unscathed within an hour of the initial attack.

They left harbor seeking the Japanese aircraft carriers the planes were launched from, but the carriers were never found.

Life is not so stressful for Stroud these days. At 76 years old, he ministers to inmates in the county jail every Sunday night.

Thats what God called me to do, he said, and hes been ministering for the last 11 years.

Before that, Stroud served as vice president of oil drilling operations for the Atlantic Oil Company.

But the experience of war has kept Stroud and his crew mates close, he said. Every year they get together for a reunion. This year it was in Reno, next year it will be in St. Louis.

Tonight at 6 p.m., in the Senior Center, Stroud and Lt. Col. David Pruess of Coos Bay, will show color slides taken during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and will field questions about the experience.

We should be reminded that freedom isnt free, he said.