It turns out that Frank Curre, who survived Pearl Harbor and then died on Dec. 7, 2011, 70 years after the attack, may have hit the attack's anniversary exactly. We heard from his family late Wednesday that Curre died around noon, in Waco, Texas. That means it was around 8 o'clock in the morning in Pearl Harbor — the hour the aerial attack began.
Curre admitted to being haunted by the Pearl Harbor raid, saying that it gave him nightmares. But he also saw every day after Dec. 7, 1941, as a gift. And as a survivor, he saw it as his duty to tell the story of what he saw that day, as he did on Morning Edition's weekly StoryCorps segment last month.
A reader of Wednesday's post here on the Two Way left this comment:
"There is something hauntingly poignant about the timing of this gentleman's death. I hope that his shipmates are there to welcome him into their honored gathering."
That sentiment was echoed by Curre himself, in a oral history interview that he recorded in 2009. At the end of that video, Curre paraphrased a quote by Admiral Chester Nimitz, about those who died in World War II.
"They served together as brothers in arms. And a lot of them died together," Curre said. "And one of these days, we shall all lie side by side, as brothers. And for me, personally, I can think of no greater honor on this Earth."
It turns out that some of Curre's fellow survivors are doing exactly that. In Honolulu, five memorial services were held this week, in which the remains of recently deceased World War II veterans were placed in Pearl Harbor, according to the AP.
For instance, in the case of Lee Soucy, who was 90 when he died last year, U.S. Navy divers placed an urn containing his ashes aboard the USS Utah, a battleship that sank on the day of the attack.
In his native Texas, Curre is being remembered as a loving father and grandfather, and the pressman for the former Waco Times-Herald. And at Waco's Tennyson Middle School, where Curre often spoke to history classes, the school's Hall of Honor bears the veteran's name.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
One final note from StoryCorps. A few weeks ago we heard from Frank Curre, the Navy veteran shared his painful story of surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor.
FRANK CURRE: I still have the nightmares. I never got over the nightmares. And with God as my witness, I read my paper this morning and right now I can't tell you what I read. I can't remember it. But what happened on that day is tattooed on your soul. There's no way I can forget that. I wish to God I could.
WERTHEIMER: Frank Curre died Wednesday, 70 years to the day after he experienced the events that haunted him. In life he regarded himself as a messenger of Pearl Harbor's story; part of the reason he said the good lord saved him and the other survivors. There are several tributes to Frank Curre at npr.org. One reads: I hope that his shipmates are there to welcome him into their honored gathering.
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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.