Pearl Harbor Survivors

The morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched an attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2400 military personnel and civilians were killed in the bombing raid, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring Dec. 7 "a date which will live in infamy." As we mark the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we are sharing stories of survivors. These men and women are no longer with us, but their life stories – and first-hand accounts of Pearl Harbor – live on in their obituaries, published by’s newspaper and funeral home affiliates.

North Carolina native Fred Aquilla Aldridge enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1935. Fred and his younger brother, Elwood, were stationed on the USS Helena in Pearl Harbor when the attack happened. Elwood was killed, and Fred received a Purple Heart due to his injuries. Fred continued to serve during World War II and received numerous medals for heroism. -Read more


Richard L. “Swede” Artley and 31 of his fellow USS Oklahoma crewmen “were trapped inside the hull for almost 36 hours before being rescued” after 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. -Read more



His was known as the "Greatest Generation," and Henry Floyd Backus, aka "Uncle Cy," lived up to that standard. In January 1941 at age 19, he volunteered for the Navy and was on base at Pearl Harbor for the attack on Dec. 7. When he died in 2016, he was one of the last remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in Utah. -Read more



Born in the Territory of Hawaii (prior to statehood), Adeline Carpenter witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor as a teenager. She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s and married George R. Carpenter. According to her obituary, Adeline enjoyed music, Hawaiian culture, singing, and was a proud supporter of the United States military. -Read more



Mario Chiarolanza was a veteran of  the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving during World War II. He was a proud member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and Valley Forge Signal Seekers. He was also a retired teacher, with 25 years service in the Philadelphia School District. -Read more



Born in Oklahoma, Clarence "Ed" Cleaver proudly served his country in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and was a Pearl Harbor survivor. A longtime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Ed was employed by the Department of Defense and enjoyed traveling. -Read more





Eleanor Montiel Corlett was born in New Orleans and grew up in Mobile, Alabama. In 1940 she married Robert Corlett, a newly commissioned naval officer fresh from flight training school in nearby Pensacola. Their first posting was to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where she had a front seat to the start of World War II. -Read more

Robert Edward Curtis joined the Navy before war broke out and was on the USS Minneapolis when Pearl Harbor was struck. At the time of the attack, his ship was just outside the harbor and was spared. But they fired on the planes as they flew away. Once the war was over, Bob went home and into the woods as a logger. He ended his woods career, teaching young loggers how to be safe in an extremely dangerous job. -Read more




Ferdinando F. D'Alauro joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and was present during the attack at Pearl Harbor. During World War II, he served as a radio operator on a bomber in the Pacific theater and was awarded several medals for his service. After the War he worked as an air traffic controller in Rome before returning to New York City. -Read more



Kenneth Warren Dugan was born in Minnesota and entered the U.S. Army in 1941. A proud survivor of the Pearl Harbor bombing, Ken served 44 months in the South Pacific during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1945. In 1952 he was ordained as a Lutheran minister and went on to serve 12 parishes, including Immanuel Lutheran in Boise, Idaho, as well as Borneo and Papua New Guinea. -Read more

By the time he graduated from high school in 1940, Henry Griffoul, who died in 2011, was already a year into the Naval Reserve. December 7, 1941, found him in Hawaii, making his way back to his ship after a night of liberty. He was one of the first sailors to witness the attack on Pearl Harbor. His ship, the destroyer USS Phelps (DD 360) was undamaged in the attack and would spend the next four years in the thick of the Pacific war, serving in 12 major engagements that included Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. -Read more

Mary Jo Hammett and her husband were Pearl Harbor survivors. While he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Pearl Harbor, she enjoyed the enchantment of the Hawaiian Islands until the attack on Pearl Harbor. She observed the enemy aircraft overhead and the explosions of the bombs on the battleships. After the attack she returned to the mainland and was immediately engaged in wartime employment as a messenger and later as a machinist in the local shipyards. -Read more

One day while walking down the street in 1937, Hal Harrold decided to join the Navy. While in the Navy, he was a diesel mechanic, welder, diver, you name it. He was on the USS Vestal, tied up to the USS Arizona, when the Japanese attacked "PHTH" (Pearl Harbor Territory of Hawaii) on Dec. 7, 1941. After a bomb exploded the Arizona, the Vestal got underway and made it out of the way. Hal's orders then became DOW, he was in for the "duration of the war." -Read more


Texan Harold Hogan served in the Naval Reserve from 1941-1945 and was working at Pearl Harbor when the bombs fell on Dec. 7, 1941. Hogan – as he was known to all who loved him – was a faithful member of the First United Methodist Church of Newton, Texas, for over 50 years where he taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and served for years on the Board of Trustees. -Read more


In 1938 Arlene Keck married her sweetheart, Ernie, who lived next door. Ernie joined the Navy and they were stationed in Hawaii where they survived the horrors of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. After 20 years service, Ernie retired from the Navy and they made their home in Puyallup, where Arlene worked for Puget Sound National Bank. -Read more


Lloyd Pierre La Plant joined the U.S. Navy to fly airplanes like his father did and was attached to Patrol Squadron-14F in Norfolk, Virginia. He flew mail for President Franklin Roosevelt, earning a commendation from the President. In San Diego, Lloyd joined Patrol Squadron-10 (VP-10) flying PBYs, and in 1938 flew to Pearl Harbor in an 18-plane mass flight. Lloyd was at home in Waikiki when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He went down to the base at Ford Island where all the PBYs were shot up. A few aircraft were pieced back together, and he was one of those few who piloted out a couple of hours later to patrol for the enemy. He never discussed the event except to say that he lost a lot of friends. -Read more

Walter Lewicki Sr. served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, surviving both Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. According to his obituary, "he lived a long and full life." He was very active in his community and church, was a 4th Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus, and was an avid golfer and bowler. -Read more




William Orison Littlejohn was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and was a past Trustee with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. He is survived by wife Josephine, son Jerry, daughter-in-law Carol, grandson Richard, great grandchildren Treyton and Kaeliana, and many nieces and nephews. -Read more


During his junior year at Kansas State studying electronics and electrical engineering, Raymond Patrick Murray was called into active duty from the Navy Reserves. He was stationed on the USS Oglala as a radio operator during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He was then commissioned to teach at Bliss Electrical School and negotiated a spot promotion that jumped him three ranks, from Radioman First Class to Ensign – at just 22 years old. -Read more


According to his family, Homer Stanley Norris was "a living miracle!" Besides beating three different cancers, Stan survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, completed 30 missions in the Pacific seeing action at Guadalcanal and Bougainville, was shot down over Germany, spent 10 months as a POW, and then was forced to leave camp and march to keep away from the Russian army. -Read more




Mary Katherine Otto, aka Kay, spoke often about her privileged life growing up on the Islands. Her Father was a retired Army Officer who would become the Last High Sheriff of Hawaii. On Dec. 7, 1941, when she was just 18, she survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There was nothing ordinary about Kay, who wanted to see the world and had dreams of becoming a pilot. During a time when there were very few female pilots, she proudly flew passengers in and out of Pearl Harbor. -Read more

Samuel Powell Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a ship's stewards mate in 1937. His first brush with danger was Dec. 7, 1941 when as a 25-year-old Steward's Mate First Class, he witnessed the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. When Japanese planes targeted his ship, the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50), Samuel helped to defend his ship. He retired from the Navy in 1959 with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. -Read more


At the age of 17, Stanford Reynolds entered the U.S. Navy. It was then and there that Stan knew he wanted a life on the sea. He was stationed on the USS Oglala during the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941 and was a proud member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association for over 50 years. -Read more



Elinore "Elly" Ross was born in Orlando in 1937, but was a Navy brat and lived all of her earlier years away. In 1941 she lived in Hawaii, just 7 miles from Pearl Harbor, and could tell many stories. She and her husband, Ike, went back to Hawaii in 1980 and found the culvert she stayed in for 3 weeks during the infamous attack. -Read more



Morton Rovner served in the U.S. Army during World War II, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was injured in the line of duty in the aftermath of the attack. After the war, he worked as a machinist and later became the co-owner of a machine tool and die company in California. -Read more



John W. Rutledge served on board the USS California and was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Later he was at the Battle of Midway as a photographer on a PBY, filming the burning of the Japanese carriers. After the war, John served as a Naval Aviator (NAP) for 10 years. After his naval retirement, John graduated from Auburn University and taught Science at Pensacola High School for 20 years. He was involved in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Society, Silver Eagles Association, and Elks Lodge. -Read more


After graduating from high school, Harold John Shimer joined the U.S. Navy and was called for duty on June 13, 1939. After boot camp, Hal began his naval career aboard the newly commissioned USS Helena. The Helena's first cruise was to South America; then the ship was assigned to Hawaii. He was aboard and took an active part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. -Read more


Donna and Jack Stewart met at grade school and started dating in the eighth grade. Jack enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1940 and served during World War II and the Korean War. Jack survived Pearl Harbor and a year later, on Dec. 3, 1942, married his sweetheart Donna. They were married for 67 years, until her death in 2010. -Read more


Angelo P. Volpe was a U.S. Army World War II veteran, a Pearl Harbor survivor and Silver Star recipient. He is recorded in the National Archives for WWII and is a member of the Pillars of Honor in Washington, D.C. -Read more


At the tender age of 17, Benjamin Franklin Wicker joined the Marines and would not see his family again for four years. Aboard the USS California during the Pearl Harbor attack, he was serving guard duty on top deck when the Japanese planes began flying over and dropping bombs. As the ship tilted, he and many others jumped into the fire filled waters to swim to shore. He was one of the very few survivors and his interview is in the World War II museum in New Orleans. -Read more


Luther Yates claimed that whenever his ship hit port during World War II, he always had a wad of cash from the onboard craps games. Luther was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and said that from the stern of the deck of the USS St. Louis, he could see the pilots of the raiding party as they dropped the torpedoes. He saw some co-pilots taking his picture as they flew by. When Luther died in 2011, he was missed greatly by all of his good friends in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. -Read more

To read more about veterans and others impacted by Pearl Harbor and World War II, we encourage you to visit’s World War II Memorial Site.

Originally published December 2011