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Roseville veterans remember Pearl Harbor

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Roseville native Alfred Mirtoni was on his way back to Sacramento when he heard the call over the radio. “Pearl Harbor is under attack,” the voice exclaimed. Mirtoni said he was shocked and felt terrible about what had happened, but he didn’t know what to do about it. “I just hung around until they asked me to go into the service,” Mirtoni said. “And I went right in.” Two years after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the 26-year-old was suited up in an Army uniform serving on eight different islands in the South Pacific. Seventy years after the attacks, Mirtoni, now 96, is the oldest veteran in Roseville to have served in World War II. On the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of the U.S. Naval base in Hawaii, Roseville veterans will be gathering at the World War II monument in downtown Roseville for a special memorial service. At the ceremony, Mirtoni will lay a commemorative wreath on the monument, which contains the names of the 1,200 Roseville native sons and daughters who served in World War II. “Out of the 1,200 people from Roseville who served in World War II, only about 100 of us are left,” said Roseville veteran John Piches. Piches was working as a civilian at the Naval shipyards in San Francisco at the time and said he remembers the events of Dec. 7, 1941 vividly. “I was in bed that morning,” Piches said. “The guys woke me up and said Pearl Harbor had been bombed. There were guys going up and down the street, sirens going off. It was a big surprise.” Piches will chair the ceremony, which will begin with a re-enactment of the tragic events that served as a catalyst for the U.S. entering World War II. The ceremony will begin with Roseville veteran Mike Branson playing Hawaiian music before he is interrupted by an announcement that, “Roseville is under attack!” Piches said Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn will then direct those in attendance to “take cover.” Following the re-enactment, the memorial ceremony will commence with an invocation and select readings by Roseville veterans. Mirtoni will then lay the wreath on the monument, a ritual that years prior has been performed by various Roseville mayors. Piches said the city of Roseville, Surewest and the Roseville Historical Society hold the ceremony every year and that it is an important way to remember the events at Pearl Harbor as well as the many Roseville natives who gave their lives. “On that particular day, St. Rose Catholic Church was downtown,” Piches said. “They were ringing the bell all day that day, and everyone cried.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.