In this Dec. 7, 1941, file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors stand among wrecked airplanes at Ford Island Naval Air Station as they watch the explosion of the USS Shaw in the background, during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The generation that remembers Pearl Harbor is fading. Fewer than 2 percent of the Americans who served in World War II are still alive. But some whose lives were forever changed that day can still share their tales. Here are a few of their stories.
PHOTO BY: D Clarke Evans
Ken Potts at home in Provo, Utah, and in 1940 (inset).
Ken Potts, now 100, survived the sinking of the USS Arizona by jumping into the harbor as the ill-fated battleship was engulfed in flames. Nearly 1,200 of his fellow crew members weren’t as fortunate. Learn more about Ken Potts.
PHOTO BY: Ross Mantle
Julia Parsons at her home in Pittsburgh, and photos from her time in the Navy during the war (inset).
Julia Parsons, 100, was one of thousands of women whose little-known story of deciphering encrypted messages sent by the Japanese and German forces played a pivotal role in helping the Allies win the war. She remembers going to a friend’s house to give her a birthday present on the day of the attacks. “The radio was telling me about Pearl Harbor. I remember thinking, Where on earth is that? Little did I know that it would affect my whole life,” she said. Learn more about Julia Parsons.
PHOTO BY: Cassisy Araiza
Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay at his home in his uniform in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Inset: An old photo of Begay when he was in the service.
One of the four remaining Navajo code talkers, Thomas Begay, now in his late 90’s, remembers traveling to Pearl Harbor late in the war to see some of the 800 messages that he and his fellow code talkers had transmitted on Iwo Jima. Learn more about Thomas Begay.
PHOTO BY: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo/ Department of Defense. Department of the Air Force
Tuskegee Airmen pilot Lieutenant Colonel Harry Stewart stands next to an authentic Tuskegee Army Airfield AT-6 Texan fighter plane after a ceremony to honor the airmen at Selfridge National Airbase in Harrison Township, Michigan June 19, 2012. Inset: Captain Alva Temple, Lieutenant Harry Stewart, and Lieutenant James Harvey in 1949
Harry Stewart, 97, remembers hearing neighbors saying the enemy would be out of Pearl Harbor in ‘no time.’ Four years later he was a Tuskegee Airman, in a cockpit above Nazi Germany. Learn more about Harry Stewart.
PHOTO BY: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images
Japanese American World War II veteran Terry Shima salutes as he is introduced with fellow recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal in the East Room at the White House in Washington, February 15, 2013.
After the bombing at Pearl Harbor many of Terry Shima’s fellow Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. Instead, the now 98-year-old enlisted in what would become one of the most highly decorated U.S. fighting units. Learn more about Terry Shima.
PHOTO BY: Cassisy Araiza
WWII Pilot Clarence "Bud" Anderson photographed at his Auburn, CA home on Tuesday September 28, 2021; inset: Anderson sitting on the wing of his P-51D Mustang "Old Crow”
Arguably one of the greatest living American fighter pilots from WWII and certainly the highest scoring living ace, Bud Anderson, now 99, recalls heeding the call of duty after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Learn more about Bud Anderson.