Five Still Serve

Not much I can add to this:

PEARL HARBOR — They are the ironmen of their generation, living through Dec. 7, 1941, and the World War that followed, and defying the pitfalls of age and health into their 80s and 90s.

The five Pearl Harbor survivors who regularly volunteer at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center here, talking and joking with tourists and signing autographs, may have lost a step or two, but not their wit.

"He's the old man right here," Alfred Rodrigues, 87, said while cocking his head toward Herb Weatherwax. "How old are you, Dad?"

Weatherwax, sitting at the same table, stated that he's 90.

"It's been 90 beautiful years. Beautiful," Weatherwax said. That excludes some dark times, though, such as witnessing the destruction of Pearl Harbor and Wheeler Army Airfield.

When a 55-year-old woman from New Jersey swoops over, plants a kiss on Rodrigues' cheek and says "Thank you" and starts to walk away, Weatherwax chimes in, "Hey, come back!" widening his ever-present smile.

That's how it goes when the aging survivors are holding court. They are a dwindling resource whose presence has become that much more precious as their ranks have thinned.


The five regular volunteers come from both Navy and Army ranks. According to a National Park Service brochure:

•Robert Kinzler was in the 25th Infantry Division. During the attack, his company was ordered to take up a position at Roosevelt High School, and Kinzler saw the Pearl Harbor destruction.

•Weatherwax, who was born in Honolulu in 1917, received the instruction to report to his duty station at Schofield Barracks that morning.

•Sterling Cale, a Navy corpsman on Dec. 7, 1941, was in charge of the burial party removing bodies from the Arizona.

•Everett Hyland was serving aboard the USS Pennsylvania, which was in dry dock No. 1 on that morning, and was seriously wounded when a Japanese bomb exploded near his battle station.

•Rodrigues, who was born in Kapaa, Kauai, was at Bishop's Point at Pearl Harbor. He was issued a .30-caliber rifle and started shooting at the Japanese planes that passed overhead.

God bless all those who serve, and have served.