U.S. Navy veteran and motor machinist Frank Regina was only 17 years old when he joined the military. After being stationed in Rhode Island and California, he was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he spent one year on the USS Utah, an old battleship commissioned in 1911.
On December 7, 1941, Regina was on the ship when it became one of the first attacked at Pearl Harbor. One of the more than 400 veterans living in 19 UPMC Senior Communities residences, Regina talks about his experiences as part of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
When the ship was hit by a torpedo, Regina felt the Utah start to roll over to the port side. He was forced to jump into the water on the starboard side and swim ashore to safety to Ford Island, located in the middle of Pearl Harbor. He recalls total chaos and seeing the USS Arizona go up in flames during the swim to shore, and later learned that 64 men aboard the Utah were killed during the attack.
When he got to shore, Regina was issued new clothes and later reassigned to the USS St. Louis, which would take him and about 1,100 other sailors across the Pacific Ocean to begin fighting in World War II. Regina, who now lives at UPMC’s Beatty Pointe Village, served in the Navy for six years after Pearl Harbor.