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Pearl Harbor: A Firsthand Account

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Pearl Harbor: A Firsthand Account

Richard L. “Swede” Artley and 31 of his fellow USS Oklahoma crewmen “were trapped inside the hull for almost 36 hours before being rescued” due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

At the time of his death on Oct. 18, 2011 at age 89, “Swede was the last survivor of the 32 ‘cut-outs’ from the Oklahoma,” according to his obituary in The Columbian of Vancouver, Washington.

Richard Artley (The Columbian)

The obit tells the poignant story of how Artley enlisted in the Navy fresh out of high school in 1940 and “requested that he be assigned to the USS Oklahoma where his brother, Daryle, was already serving.” Hometown friend Francis “Ham” Dick also served on board.

“After some delays and complications, Swede boarded the Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1940” – exactly one year before the surprise aerial attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, during which the Oklahoma capsized.

Swede was never able to locate Daryle or Ham after the attack.

After recovering from a leg injury Swede was reassigned to a subchaser, achieving the rank of Quartermaster first class. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in August of 1946.

Click here to read Artley’s firsthand account of his Pearl Harbor experience.

This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.

Originally published December 2011