A Sunday Afternoon with a Pearl Harbor Survivor

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By Denny Weddle

My last Sunday, as usual, started at Community Lutheran Church where I always get my week started. Yet I was anxious for the day to move forward as I had an afternoon date- a very special one with, Mr. Leonard G. Nielsen, former sailor, hero, and as well as Nevada’s last living survivor of the tragic event that changed the world—-December 7th “A Day Infamy” and the dastardly Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor! At age 96 I was amazed at his keen memory, yes, he’s a little stiff, but he displays the physical appearance of a man of 75! I was intrigued and had the opportunity to ask him questions of that fateful day and the days that followed.

With an appendectomy, days earlier he was in the SOLICE-a hospital ship directly astern of Arizona. Then a sudden flight of Japanese aircraft brought down the Big “A”. It completely blew up and forced out everyone.

He and his fellow shipmates began pulling wounded, dead and remains of others. Totally burned, deeply wounded and “gone” with the hospital ship. Leonard said he went back and forth. Back and forth fighting the oil, flames, smoke and continuous attacks from dawn to dusk, nights and days pass. “Save our guys they all said” and that they did…with pain, exhaustion; yet with the eternal strength of dedicated warriors

Chaotic turmoil with so many lives lost against so many saved. I was so moved speaking with this wonderful man so representative of the greatest generation!  Later he was assigned to the Pensacola and in the Battle of Midway, with his recollection, I was in awe.

I will add so much more for this story and will pull it together for a full feature in an upcoming “Veterans Reporter News”. Stand by, it is such a wonderfully patriotic sojourn and I salute my new favorite sailor who went from a young boy growing up in Utah to an incredibly significant Patriot with a call to arms at a heroic time handled, with exceptional service, and his country’s Call. Hope you all enjoy, but more to come—-Cheers!