Someone who was 20 years old in 1941 would be 100 today. That generation is just about gone.
I did talk to someone who was at Pearl Harbor shortly after the attack. He said the part that doesn't make the newsreels or history books is how many men were trapped in those ships and the desperation of those trying to rescue them. Some were still tapping messages with pipes or wrenches over a week after the attack. Very few could be rescued. In some cases, as soon as the torches cut into the hull, it would let the air out and drown the survivors. He said it was indescribably gruesome.
There are people who are really upset about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, esp. the Japanese. It doesn't seem to bother them that the Japanese started the whole thing, nor does it bother them how many prisoners and civilians were tortured and murdered. The Smithsonian used to have a pretty amazing display about the atomic bomb attacks, but they got so many complaints from these fruitcakes that they watered it down to nothing. I was fortunate enough to see the original display when I was a kid. When I saw what it's become as an adult, it made me physically sick.
In the late 70's, I worked with a guy who was captured by the Japanese in March 1942 and spent the war as a POW in Japan. He wrote a book about his experiences (which was never published) and he let me read it. Brutal. When they started moving prisoners to release them to the Americans, he travelled through Nagasaki. He said that none of them knew about the atomic bombs, as most Japanese weren't even told about it. They had heard from more recent prisoners about the fire bombing of Dresden, and the POWs all assumed that was what happened to Nagasaki. He said there wasn't much left but black ashes.
From the man who led the evacuation of USS Arizona to the fighter pilot who took to the skies in his pajamas, learn the stories of eight of the many servicemen who distinguished themselves on one of the darkest days in American military history.