MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- 75 years ago, Robert Coles stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Bagley, a Navy Destroyer when he saw Japanese planes dropping bombs like "sand out of a bucket" on nearby Ford Island.
NEWS CENTER is proud to follow Coles journey as he returns to the islands for the first time since the attacks took place.
"I loaded [a] No. 2 50-caliber-machine gun with the boxes and I swear before Almighty God I shot at and hit the first two torpedo planes that went by the ship," he said.
Coles said he doesn't know if those planes went down, but that very moment marked the start of his combat experience in World War II.
He's dreamed of going back to Pearl Harbor for decades, and now thanks to the generosity of NEWS CENTER viewers, he'll have that chance.
We met Mr. Coles in late October, at that point, some friends had started a Go-Fund-Me Page to help him raise money to go to Pearl Harbor for the 75th Anniversary. At that point, he'd raised a little more than $2500.
After we profiled Mr. Coles and shared his story, the donations began pouring in overnight. By the next morning, he had more than 12 thousand dollars from those eager to see him make that journey.
Another, veteran, Adam Moscovitz, who owns a Bangor real estate management company donated $7 thousand dollars.
"There's not many of those guys left, so I thought it was really important to make sure that he was going to be at that 75th reunion and to make sure his story continues on," said Moscovitz.
Mr. Coles and his traveling companion Dennis Boyd, who is also a navy veteran, are now making plans for the trip. They'll be leaving Saturday December 3rd. They'll be given a state police escort from Machias to Hancock County Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, where they'll board a flight to Boston. From there they'll fly into Los Angeles and then on to Hawaii, arriving on Monday, December 5th.
Mr. Coles plans to attend a number of events including the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration on December 7th, which is the actual anniversary of the attack.
Stay tuned to NEWS CENTER on air and online for many amazing stories from Coles' return to Pearl Harbor.
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