Posted by: SJS | December 7, 2021

Pearl Harbor Day

David Russell, Pearl Harbor survivor, 101 years old

On December 7, 1941, David Russell was a young sailor assigned to the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As the surprise attack overwhelmed the American ships, young Russell made a split second decision not to go below deck on his ship. Trained as an ammunition loader for anti-aircraft guns, the Seaman First Class opted to stay on deck and find a gunner to assist. His decision to stay on deck that morning is probably the reason Russell survived.

As the USS Oklahoma was hit by multiple torpedo bombs dropped by the planes of Imperial Japan, the battleship would eventually capsize. Over 400 sailors and Marines below deck were killed. Seaman Russell knew he had to get off the Oklahoma. He could see the oily water burning all around his battleship which was being repeatedly hit. Jumping into the flaming water was not an option. Seeing a hanging rope on the neighboring battleship, the USS Maryland, the young sailor jumped and caught hold of the rope and swung onto the deck of the Maryland. Once he was safely on deck there, Russell continued to look for antiaircraft gunners to help with ammunition loading.

David Russell, now 101 years old, will be in Pearl Harbor for this year’s anniversary celebration. His courage, ingenuity, and determination were the qualities that would become emblematic of the sailors who would serve in the US Navy and play a major role in the victory of the Allied Forces in WWII.


  1. Reblogged this on Lest We Forget II and commented:
    More about December 6, 1941

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