“They’re disappearing,” said Bob Scott, past president of the Albuquerque chapter of Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, after the Thursday afternoon ceremony at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial. “There’s 2,000 left, but they’re not going to be around much longer.”
Scott said he reached out to every veterans organization in the state he could think of, asking if they were aware of any living survivors, to no avail.
Scott said he knows of one who lives in Albuquerque, but at 98 years old, he was unable to make it to the event.
It’s the first time the ceremony has taken place with no survivors there, he said.
Even so, around 30 people gathered together to remember the “date which will live in infamy” that left 2,400 American service members dead.
Several were the children of survivors who have since died.
Scott joked that he is the youngest Pearl Harbor survivor, as his mother was just a few months pregnant with him in Hawaii when she and his father, Marine L.J. Scott, watched the Japanese planes fly over their home early that Sunday morning.
“They saw the planes come over and my father, right away, said, ‘We don’t maneuver on Sundays. We’re at war,’ ” he said.
Kevin Griffin, president of the chapter, spoke of his late father, Wayne Griffin, who was serving aboard the USS Raleigh when the attack occurred.
The Raleigh was hit by a torpedo and the crew rushed to throw everything they could, from airplanes to anchors, over the side to keep her from capsizing.
At the same time, other members of the crew took position on the ship’s guns and took down five Japanese planes.
There were no deaths, though some of the crew were wounded, including Wayne Griffin.
“He carried shrapnel near his heart for the rest of his life,” Kevin Griffin said.
Griffin said he hopes that with fewer than 2,000 Pearl Harbor survivors left, others will continue to carry on the memory of the attack.
“We’re here for one reason: because we don’t want people to forget,” he said. “We can never allow ourselves to be caught by surprise again.”