LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Sheldon Evans went to church while on leave from the Fifth Armored Division the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. He was eating dinner in Louisville, Kentucky with a local family when news of the attack on Pearl Harbor came over the radio.
Despite being 30 minutes from his post at Fort Knox, Evans had his orders. His leave of absence was over.
"Within an hour I was back at Fort Knox and we were told immediately that there was no relief at all," said Evans, a 58-year Larchmont resident. "We didn't know what was coming, but all of us were well aware that something was going to happen in a hurry."
Wednesday marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which Evans remembers as a moment of shock and uncertainty. When he first heard that radio announcement, Evans remembered thinking, "Is it true, and what does it mean?"
"Most of us expected that we'd be in the service for a year or two, but we knew right at that moment there would be an extension of that time," he said.
Evans was a First Sergeant and was tasked with keeping the records of people coming in from their leaves.
"If anyone was on a 10-day leave or something of that sort, they were ordered to immediately come back," said Evans, who was deployed to Europe in early 1944 and was in London on D-Day.
Evans, originally from Pennsylvania, moved to White Plains after the war and got married. As his family grew, he moved to Larchmont and has lived there since 1953. Although Evans doesn't belong to an American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, he catches up with other veterans, including Post Commander of VFW Post 1156 Burt Corwin, at Memorial Day events.
"We are lucky to have a few World War II veterans left in our area," Corwin said.
When World War II ended, Evans believed that it would be the final war.
"It just had to be done, and it certainly was the most important that I was ever aware of," he said. "And I think most GIs felt that way. It just had to be done."
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