NPR : News

Filed Under:

Veteran Of Pearl Harbor Dies On Anniversary Of Attack

Frank Curre, a Navy veteran who survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, has died at the age of 88. According to family members, he died around noon on Dec. 7, 70 years after the attack.

Curre's story of how he remembers that horrible day was featured in last month's Veteran's Day edition of StoryCorps.

For years, Curre had been suffering from mesothelioma, a type of cancer often caused by exposure to asbestos. He had reportedly been living with one of his daughters, in his native Waco, Texas.

In his StoryCorps segment, Curre described his eagerness to join the military and leave Texas as a teenager — he was so intent on his plan that he threatened to forge his enlistment papers if his mother didn't sign them.

Eventually, Curre shipped out on the USS Tennessee, a battleship.

"We headed for Pearl Harbor," he said. "I'd never even heard of it. I didn't even know what it was."

That was in August of 1941. In December, Curre watched with horror as U.S. ships and sailors were destroyed by the attacking planes. He and his shipmates tried to fight back, and when the attacks had ceased, they desperately tried to save anybody they could find.

As Curre described in a videotaped interview he gave in recent years, he and the other members of a rescue party were forced to listen helplessly as three men who were trapped inside a flooded neighboring ship tried to signal for help.

"They banged on them pipes, on them hulls down there," Curre said in the interview. "And we listened to 'em. And it tears your heart out. Tears your heart out. You can't go get 'em. You can't help 'em. And they're banging and banging."

Curre said that he never fully recovered from what he saw on that tragic day.

But he was intent on sharing his experiences, to provide future generations a sense of what it was like to witness the event that propelled the United States into World War II. That's a goal he shared with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association — a group that is reportedly slated to be disbanded at the end of this year, due to a declining membership.

Frank Curre has said that even decades after the Pearl Harbor attack, any sudden loud noise forced him to flinch involuntarily — something he blamed on watching the USS Arizona explode.

"What happened on that day is tattooed on your soul," Curre said in his StoryCorps interview. "There's no way I can forget that. I wish to God I could."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

When Caravaggio Plays Quevedo In Tennis, The Court Becomes A Sonnet

"It's a little space, well-measured and precise, in which you have to keep the ball bouncing," says Álvaro Enrigue. His book, Sudden Death, pits the Italian painter against the Spanish poet.
NPR

Birmingham Chefs Test Appetite For New Flavors With Supper Clubs

Pop-up dining experiences are cropping up across the country. While diners savor an exclusive meal, chefs get to try out recipes and gauge the local market for their food before opening a restaurant.
WAMU 88.5

Analysis Of The New Hampshire Primary

New Hampshire holds the nation's first primary election. The winners, the losers and what the results could mean for the presidential candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations.

NPR

Password Security Is So Bad, President Obama Weighs In

In unveiling a sweeping plan to fund and revamp cybersecurity, the president asks citizens to consider using extra layers of security besides the password.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.