Of an Iron man, a Pearl Harbor, and a copper helmet
Too often we forget that the biggest part of the battle at Pearl Harbor came after the Japanese were sailing away.
By 0915 on 7 December, Navy divers and salvage teams were hard at work.
Throughout 1942 and part of 1943, Navy divers worked on salvaging destroyers, supply ships, and other badly damaged vessels. The divers faced extraordinary dangers: poisonous gas, unexploded ordnance, as well as the unknown of the destruction that awaited them below. Through the course of the Pearl Harbor effort, Navy divers spent approximately 16,000 hours underwater, during 4,000 dives.
It appears that possibly the last of these iron men has stepped up for his last dive. U.S. Navy salvage diver Ken Hartle passed away at age 103 last week.
As reported by the San Diego Tribune:
David Ball, an officer with the national Navy Divers Association, said he’s pretty certain that Hartle was the oldest Navy diver from the Pearl Harbor salvage era. The World War II salvage divers held regular reunions for many years, but as more and more passed away, the gatherings stopped. At this point, the oldest divers in the association are in their 90s, said Ball, a San Diego resident.
Hartle passed away Tuesday afternoon at the Vista Del Lago memory care center in Escondido.
More on this incredible man’s story, here