Posted by: Jerry Garrett | December 2, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day 2011: Youngest Survivors Now Age 88

Pearl Harbor under attack, December 7, 1941 (U.S. Navy archives)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii

Some 60,000 United States military personnel were stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on December 7, 1941 when forces of the Japanese Empire attacked. Some 2,402 servicemen and women died that day.

As the 70th anniversary of the “Day of Infamy” arrived in 2011, it was interesting to note that fewer and fewer of the attack’s survivors were still alive. The youngest of them was about 88 years of age.

No exact estimate was given as to the number of Pearl Harbor survivors who were still alive in 2011. A surprisingly large number of them, however, planned to attend a week’s worth of commemorations here. (Many showed up last year for the dedication of a new visitor center.)

Optimistic calculations put the number of survivors in 2011 at no more than 2,700 (check out their website). The march of time will no doubt winnow that number significantly by the time the 75th anniversary rolls around in 2016.

Vin Scully, the legendary announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers, makes a point of telling his listeners each year that Americans don’t do enough to remember and recognize the heroes of World War II. He specifically mentions D-Day 1944 in his June 6 broadcasts each summer. I was reminded this past Veterans Day, November 11, of my time with the 3rd Army in Baghdad; I was saddened to learn my old unit had been sent over for a fourth tour of duty – something the Army had earlier promised them they would not do.

But back to Pearl Harbor: Taking Vin Scully’s advice to heed, I visited here the week surrounding December 7 to pay my own respects.

It is sobering to recall the events of that sad day so many years ago; but the reminders, such as the stark memorial to the sunken USS Arizona, will remain long after the last survivor is gone.

Please take a moment on Pearl Harbor Day – this year and every year – to have your own remembrance.

Jerry Garrett

December 2, 2011

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Responses

  1. Dear Jerry: Thank you for remembering. A Canadian, June 6 is a big day for us and it has been drilled into my kids. For me, Pearl Harbour was a memory as my Uncle had been in the Canadian Navy and always had a tear in his eye on December 7 … fellow seamen. Keep up the good work, I do enjoy reading your thoughts. And, I’m glad, finally, that everyone is getting out of Iraq. Cheers. Michael.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael. When in Dieppe, France, I always tip my cap (or beret) to the Canadians who sacrificed so much on the beach, and on the cliffs there. WWII really was a war with implications for the entire world. Sometimes people forget the commitment of nations like Canada whose military served so valiantly, with so little recognition.

    • MIchael – can I just say, as a Scots child growing up after the war we always knew what the Canadian Troops had done. My Great Uncle had his legs blown off in a minefield in the Black Forest after D-Day. He and his surviving friends lay there expecting to die – when Canadian Troops with tanks arrived – and just marched into the minefield and brought them out and got them to a field hospital.
      So many heroes go unsung – but it doesn’t make them any less heroic. Thanks to Canada.

  2. Remember Pearl Harbor — Keep America Alert!

    (Now deceased) America’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, “The Day of Infamy”, Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

    (Now deceased) ‘Navy Centenarian Sailor’, 103 year old, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio ‘Jay’ Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat Radioman/Gunner (1920s/1930s) in the tactical air squadrons of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

    Visit my photo album tribute to these centenarian veteran shipmates:

    http://news.webshots.com/album/123286873BFAAiq

    http://news.webshots.com/album/141695570BONFYl

    San Diego, California

  3. Hi Mr Garrett, I’m writing to you from South Africa. My son has to do a history project on Pearl Harbour but his teacher want them todo something out of the pordinary and not re-write facts but go out their way to get information. We thought talking or getting a recollcetion from someone that was present at the attack would prove to be what his teacher is looking for. Would you be interested in assisting. My son is 12 turning 13 next month and is a history enthusiast.

    Thanks

    Tracy

    • Hi Tracy,
      I’m traveling in Europe at the moment, and would not be any direct help in locating a Pearl Harbor veteran for your son to speak with. But I am aware that some survivors and family members have been reading this blog post, and I would encourage them to respond to your query here. Congratulations on your son’s quest to look deeper than Wikipedia for answers and insights about historical events. I wish every student could find such motivation!

  4. Thank you, ALL veterans ,, past, present, future..


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