Pearl Harbor Survivors Association holds final meeting in San Diego: report

The San Diego chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, one of the largest in the nation, held its final meeting on Saturday with only seven service members in attendance, according to a report.

At its peak, the San Diego chapter boasted 586 members.

“It’s certainly the end of an era, and it leaves me a little heartbroken,” Chapter President Stuart Hedley, 97, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Portland chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. 

The Portland chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.  (Getty Images)

The chapter’s vice president, Jacks Evans, died earlier this year at the age of 95. To continue, the chapter needed at least two survivors to serve on the board. But with no one willing or able to take the helm, the organization decided to yield to the reality of time's passage.

“There’s no way around it. We are a dying organization,” Hedley said.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese pilots decimated Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Navy base in Hawaii, killing around 2,400 Americans and injuring around 1,200. For the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, it was a surprise preemptive military strike, one that drew America into World War II.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association formed in the mid-1950s, offering a meeting opportunity for survivors. At its peak, the organization had nearly 30,000 members across dozens of chapters, according to The Union-Tribune.

San Diego’s chapter was formed in 1963, drawing many veterans because of the city’s longstanding ties to the Navy. It was at one point one of the nation's largest chapters.

“I think we like to get together because Pearl Harbor was a one-of-a-kind experience,” Bob Ruffato told The Union-Tribune. “Unless you were there, it’s hard to understand what it was like.”

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Saturday’s meeting took place at a church in La Mesa, about 12 miles east of San Diego, drawing a crowd of about 100 people in all. Many were relatives, friends or admirers.

After lunch, the chapter board held “its shortest meeting ever,” before Hedley said a prayer and called roll, the paper reported.

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“We are done,” he said after reportedly tapping a gavel on the table.