Phoenix veteran reflects on military service during WWII

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Harold Bergbower was 19 when he volunteered to join the then-named Army Air Corps. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Harold Bergbower was 19 when he volunteered to join the then-named Army Air Corps. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
He was 21 when the Axis Powers bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) He was 21 when the Axis Powers bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
On the day after, December 8, Bergbower was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines when he heard Clark had also been bombed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) On the day after, December 8, Bergbower was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines when he heard Clark had also been bombed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Minutes later, the bombs landed and he was hit.  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Minutes later, the bombs landed and he was hit.  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Before CMSgt. Harold Bergbower served as a grand marshal in this year’s Phoenix Veterans Day parade, before he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before he met with President George W. Bush, and before World War II, he was a teenager in Illinois.

Bergbower was 19 when he volunteered to join the then-named Army Air Corps. He was 21 when the Axis Powers bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

On the day after, Dec. 8, Bergbower was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines when he heard Clark had also been bombed. Minutes later, the bombs landed and he was hit. 

[RELATED: Phoenix Veterans Day parade features actress from TV show “M*A*S*H”]

His mother received a telegram: her son had been killed in action.

In 1945, she would learn the truth: her son was alive and headed for home.

The bombing at Clark Field knocked Bergbower unconscious. When he woke, he was disoriented, covered in debris and in a morgue.

He crawled out from the rubble, returned to his squadron and reported for duty.

Bergbower survived the Battle of Bataan and more than three years as a prisoner of war. He remembers little of the Hell Ship voyage from the Philippines to Japan but has never forgotten the Native-American man who kept him alive by sneaking him food. 

After the war, Bergbower returned stateside in 1945. He stayed in service, retiring from the Air Force in 1969.

In 2002, Bergbower returned to the Philippines for the 60th anniversary of the fall of Bataan. He was accompanied by his daughter, Debra, who knew very little of her father’s heroism and experience.

Bergbower did not want to relive the war and spoke very little of it for decades. More recently, he speaks of it when asked to honor his fallen brothers-in-arms and to teach younger generations the lessons of the past.

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Lina de FloriasLina de Florias is the weekend anchor of "Good Morning Arizona”.

Click to learn more about Lina.

Lina de Florias

Lina joined 3TV and CBS 5 in June 2015. Before coming back to her hometown of Phoenix, Lina was the evening anchor for WEAR ABC 3 in Pensacola.

There, she covered tropical storms and a fatal explosion at the county jail. As the primary anchor, she covered the desk for 12 hours during a storm that dumped more than 26 inches of rain in the area in less than 24 hours.

In her nearly five years on the Gulf Coast, Lina worked as the traffic reporter, morning anchor and evening anchor.

Before leaving Phoenix, Lina started in the 3TV newsroom as an intern during her senior year at Arizona State University. Lina also represented her home state of Arizona at the Miss USA pageant and is happy to be back in the Valley with her husband.

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