Raymond Haerry, one of the survivors of the USS Arizona attack, interred in his old ship at Pearl Harbor
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Raymond Haerry, who was thrown from the deck of the USS Arizona in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, returned to his old battleship Saturday, his remains interred in the sunken wreckage, where more than a thousand of his former crew mates already rest.
Haerry, who was a 20-year-old coxswain on the day of the attack, died Sept. 27 in West Warwick, R.I. He was 94.
Divers from the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service carried an urn with Haerry's remains from the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial to the ship's broken hull in the water beneath the memorial. There, the urn was placed in the barbette of gun turret four.
The interment is an honor accorded only to former crewmen of the Arizona. Haerry is the 42nd survivor whose remains have been returned to the ship. In all, 335 sailors and Marines survived the assault; 1,177 crew members perished.
Haerry's granddaughter, Jessica Marino, represented the family at the ceremony, presided over by Rear Admiral John Fuller, commander of the Navy's Hawaii region. Haerry had never visited the site since the attack, but told his family he wished to be interred in the ship when he died.
"That brotherhood doesn't go away and as he got closer to the end of life, it resonated with him," Marino told the Associated Press. "He didn't want to see the site or relive that disaster, but he wanted to relive that camaraderie."
Two of Haerry's former crewmates — John Anderson and Clarendon Hetrick — were interred in the ship in December, on the 75th anniversary of the attack. Five survivors remain: Lauren Bruner, 96, of La Mirada, Calif; Lou Conter, 95, of Grass Valley, Calif.; Lonnie Cook, 96, of Morris, Okla.; Ken Potts, 95, of Provo, Utah; and Donald Stratton, 94, of Colorado Springs, Colo.
'He was blown into the water'
Haerry was barely 18 when he enlisted in the Navy, choosing the service instead of college. He boarded the Arizona in September 1940 as the battleship's crew prepared for what seemed certain war.
On board the Arizona, he worked on the deck crew, cleaning and painting, operating the boats that ferried crew members to shore. On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, he had taken a load of crew members to shore and was eating breakfast on the ship when the Japanese attack started.
“He said they could hear the bombs, hear the planes immediately,” Raymond Haerry Jr. said in a 2014 interview.
Haerry could see enemy planes strafing the deck. He made it to his battle station on the anti-aircraft gun battery, but within minutes, the largest of the bombs rocked the Arizona, tearing it in half.
“He said he felt the entire ship lift up eight or 10 feet out of the water,” Raymond Jr. said. “When it came down, he was knocked into the water, overboard. He was blown into the water.”
He half-walked, half-swam to nearby Ford Island, where he found a machine gun and began firing at planes until the attack subsided.
After World War II, Haerry served in Korea and then began teaching officer candidates in Newport, R.I., before retiring from the Navy in 1964 as a Master Chief Petty Officer.
In December 2011, on the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, Haerry received the Rhode Island Cross, the highest civilian honor the state bestows.
'It was really sad, but also really sweet'
The interment ceremony took place on the deck of the Arizona Memorial, which sits anchored atop the battleship's wreckage. Fuller, the Navy admiral, talked about Haerry's courage and his belief in the greater cause.
"I can't help but think about him being reunited into these simple, hallowed spaces," Fuller said. "The calm that comes from being again with your crew, and the lessons we can learn from all he taught us."
After the memorial service, divers took the urn from the memorial and carried it aloft in the water until they reached the area over the gun turret. They submerged and placed the container with the others.
"That was the point at which I kind of lost it," Marino said. "It was really sad, but also really sweet to see. It was amazing."
From the deck of the memorial, Marino dropped flowers into a well above the ship.
Raymond Jr. was unable to attend the ceremony, but he had worked for years to help his father assemble the story of his experience on the Arizona and help retell the story. Haerry was reticent for a long time to talk about the attack, but kept mementos of his time on the ship, including a ball cap that most of the survivors wore.
“To go through that at 19 years of age to me is incomprehensible,” his son said. “He’s a hero.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.