Widow: 'As long as there is one survivor, there is Pearl Harbor' (Video)
Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.
Updated Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.
Larry Chilcoat slowly raised his hand into a salute.
"Stand down, daddy," Chilcoat said, standing over the grave of his father, Joseph Chilcoat, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor who died in 1988.
Chilcoat and Sue Lindsey, widow of Pearl Harbor survivor Gary Lindsey, who died in 1986, made their way to the six graves of Victoria Pearl Harbor survivors in Memory Gardens Cemetery and placed an American flag and a wreath at each.
Lindsey said she continues the annual tradition in her husband's memory.
"He wanted to keep Pearl Harbor alive," Lindsey said. "And that's the reason I'm still doing it, and I'll do it until I have no breath."
As they have done for at least a decade, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Texas Chapter 1, met at The Corral restaurant for lunch on Wednesday.
Family members and members of local veteran associations were also in attendance.
Survivor D.D. Hill, 88, of El Campo, was in attendance. Victorian Bill Lockey, 91, who had attended the last several gatherings, has moved to Gatesville but was represented by his daughter Gayla Higdon.
Lockey recently suffered several medical issues, including being clinically dead at one point.
"He died last year for a few moments at the VA hospital," Higdon said. "They pronounced him dead, but brought him back. He was on life support for a while.
"He's a strong, tough old man. God just wasn't ready for him yet," she said. "I'm proud of my daddy. He's a good man."
Hill recounted the events of Dec. 7, 1941, from his perspective and also added his thoughts on why Americans should always remember the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"Even though we have a big ocean on either side of us, there is always the threat that some kook may decide that he wants what we worked for and built," Hill said.
"It's a whole lot better to talk things over and try to work them out peacefully than sink ships and (take) lives," said Hill.
On the somber anniversary, Lindsey got more bad news.
Chilcoat informed her that with the number of survivors dwindling and many in declining health, the national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has voted unanimously to disband the organization at the end of the year.
"I think it's a shame," Lindsey said. "As long as there is one (survivor), there is Pearl Harbor."
Chilcoat said the dissolution of the national organization won't affect the annual placing of flags and wreaths on graves and survivor luncheon held locally.
"It's up to the widows and sons and daughters now," Chilcoat said. "That's my pledge to those guys."