Pearl Harbor survivors, group keep memories of attack alive
By BY SONNY LONG - SLONG@VICAD.COM
Dec. 7, 2009 at 6:07 a.m.
Updated Dec. 8, 2009 at 6:08 a.m.
As the number of Pearl Harbor survivors dwindle with time, widows and children of the men who lived through that day help to ensure the attack is remembered.
Sue Lindsey said her support of the group was a promise to her late husband. Her husband, Gary Lindsey, helped to organize the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Texas Chapter 1, and served as president for several years,
"It's a special day for me," she said Monday, the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack. "That's one thing he asked me to do before he died - to keep the memory of Pearl Harbor alive. And as long as I have breath, I will."
Each year on Dec. 7, Lindsey and Larry Chilcoat of Rockport place special wreaths on the 10 or so graves of Pearl Harbor survivors in Victoria. They set them out early in the morning and gather them in the afternoon.
Chilcoat is the son of a Pearl Harbor survivor, Joe Chilcoat, and is key in organizing the annual survivors lunch at The Corral restaurant.
"It's important people remember the lessons from Pearl Harbor. We must keep a strong, vigilant military in place so that an attack like that never happens again," said Chilcoat.
This year, two survivors attended the gathering.
Bill Lockey, 89, was aboard the USS New Orleans when the Japanese attack began about 8 a.m. on a Sunday.
Lockey avoided gunfire during the first pass of Japanese planes. Bullets almost hit him during the second pass.
"I was standing by a flag pole. They shot the flag pole all to pieces, but they didn't get me," Lockey said.
At one point, he used a wrench to break a lock to grab ammunition. He later suffered a minor head wound, he said.
Survivor D.D. Hill of El Campo was on the USS Dewey during the attack.
"I had a ringside seat to most of the action," he said. "I saw a lot of aircraft in the air that wasn't ours. At 19, I was thinking I'd probably made a mistake joining the Navy."
Hill laughed when asked about his age.
"I go by 88," he said, explaining that he enlisted using an older brother's birth certificate in 1940. That brother, William Bruce Hill, later used D.D.'s birth certificate to also enlist. His brother didn't survive the war. He later died in battle off San Juan Island aboard the USS Hornet.
"I served in a war zone all the way through and never got a scratch," Hill said. "He gets killed on his first tour. He's the hero. I'm just a guy that survived."