Sunday, December 10, 2006
Since that terrible morning 65 years ago, the survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor have been called heroes, V.I.P.’s of the greatest generation, and the first American witnesses to the last world war. But more and more, the members of this exclusive group are being called something else: endangered.
With age and aching joints slowing even the most hardy of old sailors, marines and airmen, the major national survivors group has decided this year’s anniversary gathering will be its last in Hawaii.
“We’re getting about as extinct as the dodo bird,” said Mal Middlesworth, the president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which traditionally meets here every five years. “The way it’s going, our next national convention here we could hold in a phone booth.”
Mr. Middlesworth, 83, who watched the attack from the deck of the heavy cruiser San Francisco, said much of his membership of 4,600 survivors had simply become too old to travel great distances. “There’s a lot of people in wheelchairs and in walkers,” he said. “And we don’t have any replacement troops.”