One of the last living Pearl Harbor veterans has passed away at the age of 100.
Bill Hayes knew exactly how World War II started, he was there when it happened.
Bill entered Fort Shafter in Honolulu on the morning of Sunday, December 7th, 1941, when he saw soldiers with combat helmets and riffles pour out of their barracks.
Hayes said at first he thought it was a drill, but then realized that it was very very real.
“And as I drove up the road, I saw a … plane drop a bomb into a large oil tank, and it went up in smoke. The sky was full of planes and bursts from antiaircraft shells,” Hayes wrote in a remembrance of the battle.
He dashed into his quarters. “When I came out, I stood on the fender of the car and watched them bomb a ship in Pearl Harbor,” he wrote.
“There were four planes attacking the ship in four directions. One plane came over my head about 50 feet high, and I could see the (pilot’s) face almost clearly enough to recognize him if I saw him again … He let his bombs go as he passed the ship. They didn’t look very big but they made a hell of a noise.”
The retired Army Colonel passed away this week at a San Antonio nursing home at 100. This leaves only three remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in the area. Navy Radioman 1st Class William St. John, 97; retired Air Force Tech Sgt. Kenneth Platt, 98; and Gilbert Mayer, 95, a retired chief petty officer who served aboard the USS Utah.
It is heartbreaking and sad to see us losing the last of the greatest generation in American history.
You can read more about the late great Colonel Hayes HERE.