Number of Pearl Harbor veterans dwindling, one from Hart, Michigan remembers
People around the country are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor today.
It was December 7, 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the island of Oahu.
Many of the surviving veterans of that battle are now in their late 80s to 90s. The New York Times reports that 7,000 survivors were on hand at the USS Arizona Memorial for the 50th anniversary. For the 70th anniversary, they're expecting 125 survivors.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association announced today that they're disbanding. From the Times:
“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89, who was once the director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, interviewed by telephone from Texas. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.”
The Muskegon Chronicle has a nice feature story today on a Pearl Harbor survivor from Hart, Michigan.
Buck Beadle is 91. He's a retired Oceana County Sheriff's deputy. Beadle was aboard the USS Hull on the morning of the attack.
From the Chronicle:
As Beadle remembers it, the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, dawned warm and sunny in Pearl Harbor, like “any other day” in tropical Honolulu, Hawaii. He and the other 220 men aboard the USS Hull were “relaxing, lying on our bunks and reading the newspaper” when all hell broke loose.
“It was scary at first,” Beadle says. “We didn’t know what was going on. But when we heard those four-barrel machine guns going, that told you something was radically wrong.”
After the attack, the U.S. declared war on Japan and Beadle spent four years at sea on the USS Hull.
He's being honored today at a gathering at the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society where some of his photographs are on display.