The oldest survivor of Pearl Harbor celebrates his 105th birthday


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Flag-waving supporters lined the sidewalk near St. National Museum of the Second World War in New Orleans on Wednesday to salute the oldest survivor of the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor when he celebrated his 105th birthday.

“I feel great,” Joseph Eskenazi of Redondo Beach, Calif., told reporters after posing for a photo with his great-grandson, who is about to turn 5, his 21-month-old great-granddaughter and six other World War II veterans. 90 for everyone.

On January 30, Eskenazi turns 105 years old. On Friday, he boarded an Amtrak train in California to travel to New Orleans. Other veterans representing the Army, Navy and Marine Corps flew in for the event.

They were visiting thanks to c Flight Valor Program, a project of actor Gary Sinise’s charitable foundation dedicated to helping veterans and emergency services. As part of the program, tours to the museum are organized for veterans of the Great Patriotic War and their guardians.

Eskenazi was a private first class in the army when the attack took place. His memories include waking up to a bomb falling but not exploding near where he slept at Schofield Barracks, hearing explosions as the battleship USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese bombs, and machine gun fire from enemy aircraft that was kicking up dust around him after he volunteered to drive a bulldozer across a field so it could be used to clear airstrips.

“I don’t even know why — my hand just went up when they asked for volunteers,” Eskenazi said. “No one raised their hand anymore because they knew it meant death. … I did it unconsciously.”

He was stationed at Schofield Army Barracks when the attack that plunged the United States into the war began on December 7, 1941. About 2,400 soldiers died.

Eskenazi and his fellow veterans lined up to take pictures among exhibits of World War II-era planes and Higgins landing craft.

“Thank you guys for giving us a country worth fighting for,” veteran Billy Hall, who rose to the rank of major in the Marine Corps after enlisting in 1941, shouted to well-wishers.

The museum opened in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum and has since grown in size and scope.

The oldest survivor of Pearl Harbor celebrates his 105th birthday

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