DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Seventy years ago, Americans had no idea that this day would forever change the course of history. But one survivor of the infamous Pearl Harbor attack realized that what he was witnessing would impact his life – and he has spent years preserving his memories.
Jim Hardwick still has a photograph of himself relaxing on the beach just a day before the attack took place. He also has his ship’s work schedule for December 7, 1941 – the plans were quickly forgotten early that morning.
Hardwick awoke on-shore to the sound of explosions, coming from the Japanese attack. He was ordered to head to Honolulu, where he was commissioned by the Navy. “People running everywhere and boats crossing each other in the harbor,” Hardwick recalled.
The 88-year-old Dallas resident said that he came close to losing his life that day. “My ship received a bomb hit just before I went aboard,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick has kept mementos from his experience, including medals and his uniform, as well as a newspaper from the afternoon of the attack. He has copies of battle records and battle maps from his ship.
He met his wife of 60 years as an indirect result of Pearl Harbor. It is not surprising that he has a photograph taken on the night that they first met.
Needless to say, this masive collection holds tremendous value to the aging veteran, who plans to show it off again on the 75th anniversary of the terrible attack. “I’m planning to be the last survivor of Pearl Harbor,” Hardwick said.
He is one of an estimated 8,000 Pearl Harbor survivors still living.