|Herb Weatherwax, 7/17/2014|
USS Arizona Memorial
Photo © 2014 by Kim Headlee
Today on The Maze:
Pearl Harbor Survivor
He was born in June 1917, scant months before the outbreak of a conflict that, though a world away, in soon-to-become Communist Russia, would shape his career and his life.
Less than a quarter century later, he would witness the watershed event of the US's involvement in World War II.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the newly enlisted Army private, while enjoying a weekend pass off post, to hear the explosions and frantic radio broadcasts, smell the smoke, and race back to his duty station only to witness the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma already engulfed in flames and sinking.
When I think that maybe I had felt something similar as I evacuated Washington, DC on the fateful morning of September 11th, 2001, by sheer chance being one of the first people to know what was happening because I was assisting a client at FAA Headquarters that day, I stop myself. I was a civilian; Herb was a soldier. DC was my place of business.
Honolulu was—and still is—Herb's beloved hometown.
I simply cannot imagine the depth of anguish he must have felt; perhaps not right away, since duty to country and companions had to come first, but later, in the vast terrible aftermath.
My husband and I were privileged to meet Herb on our way out of the USS Arizona Memorial during our all-too-brief visit in July. I wish we'd had more time, not only on the vast grounds of the memorial itself, but to sit and chat longer with this lovely, lively man. At 97, he says that speaking to visitors from around the globe, which he does three times a week and plans to do so as long as he is physically able, keeps him going.
Thank you, Herb, for your service—not just seven decades ago, but now too.