One of the handful of survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona has died.
Daniel Martinez, chief historian of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, confirmed the death of Raymond Haerry, who was 19 when he was blown off the battleship into Pearl Harbor when a Japanese armor-piercing bomb smashed through its bow on Dec. 7, 1941.
The 1,760-pound bomb ignited powder magazines and fuel stores in a roaring fireball that scorched and killed crewmembers and instantly separated most of the bow from the ship. The Arizona lost 1,177 crew members.
With Haerry’s loss, the number of Arizona survivors can be counted on one hand — just five.
Martinez said Haerry’s death “is part of the historical treasure that is in some ways lost” from the Dec. 7 attack.
“A lot of their memories have been recorded,” Martinez said, “but it’s just the fact that you can see (survivors) and they can still bear witness to what their experience was, and anytime (a death) happens it starts to in some ways erode the memory of World War II.”
In April, Haerry, 94, was living in an assisted living center in Rhode Island. On Dec. 7, 1941, he ran to an anti-aircraft gun and saw Japanese planes strafing the Arizona when he felt the entire ship seemingly rise out of the water before the blast blew him overboard, the Providence Journal reported.
He swam though burning diesel fuel and charred bodies and once on land, found a 50-cal. machine gun and began firing at enemy planes, the newspaper said.
Haerry was not expected to return to Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary of the attack because of his poor health. But the other five survivors are expected to make the trip.