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Tora!Tora!Tora! attack hits home for Westmoreland airshow patron | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Tora!Tora!Tora! attack hits home for Westmoreland airshow patron

Joe Napsha
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Albert Viloria of Pittsburgh gets to sit in the cockpit of a U.S. Army National Guard “Blackhawk” helicopter Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow. “This is the first time we’ve come out to this show, and so far it’s been a really cool experience,” Viloria said.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” and a Nakajima B5N “Kate” cruise over black clouds from explosions during the Tora! Tora! Tora! re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
As part of a demonstration showing modern and historic aviation, a P-51 “Mustang” and an F-16 “Fighting Falcon,” fly side-by-side Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Pyrotechnics rock the ground with explosions at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
As part of a demonstration showing modern and historic aviation, a P-51 “Mustang” and an F-16 “Fighting Falcon” fly side-by-side Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Members of the audience take photos Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Simulated bombs explode at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport as a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” zips by overhead as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Siblings Katelyn Bean, 4, and Easton Bean, 5, take a gander at the cockpit controls alongside their dad, Josh Bean of Irwin, while looking up-close at the Capital Wing Commemorative Air Force’s historical TBM-3E “Avenger” World War II plane Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport for the Shop ‘nSave Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A simulated bomb explodes at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport as a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” zips by overhead as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A Curtiss P-36 “Hawk” flies alongside Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” World War II planes Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! historical re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Mitsubishi A6M “Zeroes” fly over the crowds as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Priscilla Kwan of Greensburg watches a U.S Marine Corps Harrier Jump Jet take off from the runway Saturday, May 25, 2019, while holding her son, Daiwik Baid, 4, as he covers his ears from the sound of the jet engines at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Crowds watch from the ground as members of the flight team of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show and re-enactment fly by as they get into position for their show on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Mitsubishi A6M “Zeroes” fly over the crowds as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A pilot with the Viper Demo Team flying an F-16 Falcon waves to the crowd after taxiing on the runway on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Pyrotechnic displays mimic bombings at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport as a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” zips by overhead as part of the Tora! Tora! Tora! air show re-enactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Ava Santora, 7, of Pittsburgh hops up on the wing of a General Motors TBM-3E “Avenger” airplane, a World War II aircraft, while families and crowds gather to see the sights on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at the 2019 Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow. The airplane was on display for people to get a close-up look by Capital Wing Commemorative Air Force based in Brandy Station, Va.
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Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
Second Lt. Stephen Pernelli of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, a Latrobe native, talks with visitors to the Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Pernelli is a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

As Russell Miller of Connellsville joined thousands of others Saturday in watching World War II training planes modified to look like Japanese planes simulate — but in the skies above the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe — the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, he wondered what it was like to be there that fateful day.

For Miller, watching the Tora! Tora! Tora! aerial show at the Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, hit very close to home.

“I wonder what he (Miller’s father) would have thought” of the simulated attack played out over the rolling hills of Westmoreland County.

That’s because his late father was a radioman aboard a destroyer at Pearl Harbor the day the Japanese launched the surprise attack, destroying or damaging almost 20 U.S. ships and killing more than 2,400 Americans. The attack that plunged the United States into a war already waging in Europe and Asia.

The Tora! Tora! Tora! performance by eight planes of the Commemorative Air Force of Morton, Ill., included a pyrotechnic display of explosions meant to mimic the bombing by Japanese planes. It was accompanied by a narration explaining the attack.

The Japanese word Tora translates to tiger in English. In the attack on Pearl Harbor, the word was used by Japanese fighters as a code to signify that the attack had been a surprise, according to the website Japan Today.

Going to the popular airshow and seeing the planes and helicopters, like the Black Hawk helicopter parked along the airport’s tarmac, “brings back a lot of memories,” the 72-year-old Miller said.

Miller was in the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970, serving “all over Vietnam” and during the massive Tet Offensive that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong allies launched in January 1968.

“I used to fly in a Huey helicopter. I was a door gunner,” Miller said.

The Pennsylvania National Guard’s Black Hawk helicopter, based at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, drew a considerable crowd. Airshow patrons were able to climb into the helicopter and be strapped into seats and go into the cockpit.

Watching over the crowd at the Black Hawk helicopter was Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Stephen Pernelli of Latrobe.

“It’s a great workhorse. It’s the Army’s workhorse,” said Pernelli, a Black Hawk pilot.

To the general public, the Black Hawk helicopter gained notoriety in October 1993, when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu, Somalia. Eighteen Americans were killed in the ensuing battle and rescue attempt.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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