BY MOLLIE S. WATERS
The Greenville Standard
According to a Census.gov document, that is the number of American men, women, and children who were killed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Of that 2,403 people, at least 32 Alabamians died on the “U.S.S Arizona.”
Yet, there were survivors of that day, too, and many of them were from Alabama as well. Years later, they would recount their tales of survival in various news services, such as “The Montgomery Advertiser” and WSFA News.
Not one of them lives today, though.
The last known Alabama survivor of Pearl Harbor died on May 13, 2020, at the age of 99. His name was Master Sgt. Thomas Daniel Davis.
In an WSFA.com article titled “Alabama’s only known living Pearl Harbor survivor turns 99” from May 15, 2019, Davis recounted seeing the devastation at Pearl Harbor.
“I was about less than two miles from there, Battleship Row,” Davis said. “That first plane came over and dropped his bomb, then he went back, then all hell broke loose.”
He said the only thing that saved everyone from complete annihilation that day was the American carrier ships that were able to return fire on the Japanese bombers.
After the initial bombing, he could see nothing except smoke and the fire of the burning ships.
“The guy that went into the Navy with me, he was on the ‘Arizona,’” said Davis. “So he had the duty that morning, and I was off.
“So he told me, ‘Dave, why don’t you come over and spend the night with me, and then we’ll go up in town the next day?’ I told him, ‘Heck, I’ll stay on my own ship.’ Today, he’s not here.”
Davis said he saw the whole event unfold.
Although Davis saw much devastation that day, he went on to serve his country throughout World War II, and he remained in service in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
To watch Davis’s remembrances of Pearl Harbor, visit the YouTube web link at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yOs7uet4xI.