WXXI AM News

98-year-old Navy veteran recalls Pearl Harbor attack

Dec 7, 2018

Credit freeimages.com/Nate Valesquez

Seventy-seven years ago today, the Pearl Harbor attack plunged the U.S. into World War II.

Stan Hwalek was 21 years old, a U.S. Navy coxswain serving aboard the U.S.S. Nevada in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Now, at the age of 98, his memories of the military attack aren't as vivid as they once were.

"I think about some of it,” said the Greece resident, “but not like I used to. Like everything else, it sort of fades away and goes away."

But Hwalek said there's one memory that is with him still. It was the moment Japanese warplanes started striking the battleship.

"Being inside the turret when the bombing was going on and being as scared as could be."

Commanders of the Nevada managed to navigate the vessel away from the line of fire after a torpedo and several bomb strikes.

Hwalek said the ship passed the U.S.S. Arizona and the fire raging through it scorched the Nevada.  The 1938 graduate of Franklin High School in Rochester lived to tell the story, but some of his friends and shipmates were among those killed in the attack.