Any more, it's a good turnout when six local survivors of Imperial Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on U.S. forces on Oahu, one of the most momentous events in American history, make it to a monthly meeting in Santa Rosa.
There was a time not many years ago that dozens showed up. But 69 years after the lopsided first U.S. battle of World War II, most Pearl Harbor veterans have died or they're not up to getting to meetings.
Today, half of the six stalwarts of the regional chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, all aged about 90, are in Hawaii for what likely will be their last collective hurrah. And I'm with them.
On Tuesday, the 7th, Jesse Love, Herb Louden, Walt Urmann, myself and a small platoon of Sonoma and Lake County friends, relatives and widows of Pearl Harbor survivors will be in the harbor to commemorate the 69th anniversary and tour the new, $56 million visitor center near the sunken remains of the battleship Arizona.
The local chapter's other still-active members — Bill May, Don Blair and Frank Sennello — are staying home and on Tuesday morning will gather to commemorate Dec. 7 and salute their lost comrades at a memorial breakfast and ceremony.
It will start at 8 a.m. with an $8 buffet at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. There's no charge if you'd rather come at 9 a.m. for the ceremony that includes the tolling of a bell for all the local vets who survived the attack on Oahu and have since passed away.
If you'd like to honor the remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor, Tuesday would be a good time.
HER HEART STOPPED when longtime Santa Rosa resident Marie Hunter read days ago that a pest exterminator had found in an attic the World War II photo album of an Army Air Corps aircraft mechanic named Charles C. Stricklin.
“He was my brother. He's been gone 51 years,” said Marie, who's 80 and retired from a business career that included working for years for the late Hugh Codding.