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Local Sailors honor Pearl Harbor survivor

By Petty Officer 1st Class David Kolmel | Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command Public Affairs | Dec. 11, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

In commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Sailors from the Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, led by Rear Adm. Tina Davidson, attended a Dec. 6 ceremony honoring one of the survivors at Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community.

The honoree, William “Bill” St. John, served as a radioman first class during the attack and worked as a radar operator at Kaneohe Naval Air Station, now known as Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“It was an honor to get a chance to visit Mr. St. John and the other veterans at Poet’s Walk,” Davidson said. “Visiting St. John and the other vets gives us a chance to thank them for their service and talk to them about their service to better understand their stories.”

Master Chief Petty Officer John “J.T.” Renn, NMETLC’s Operations Directorate senior enlisted leader and a submariner who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, spoke with St. John about how the Navy and Hawaii honor the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“It was an amazing experience talking to St. John,” Renn said. “We talked about the buildings he worked in and I told him how those buildings are still standing and there are still bullet holes in the buildings from attack. To see his eyes light up from knowing that they are still honoring the experience he went through was a once in a lifetime experience.”

St. John told the Sailors of how he left the radar station after a midnight shift that ended at 7:30 a.m., just 25 minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor began. He also told them how thankful he was to make it out of there safely.

The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted 90 minutes and resulted in the loss of 2,403 lives with 1,143 wounded.

St. John is one of two Pearl Harbor survivors living in the San Antonio area.