Pearl Harbor Survivor Stories of the Attack

December 06, 2011
by Randy Miller

There was a time when you could visit Pearl Harbor and there would be two or three people telling Pearl Harbor Survivor stories about their experience of the attack. Of course, as time passes, there are fewer and fewer survivors. Fortunately, many Pearl Harbor survivor stories have been recorded and you can watch them here on

Those of us who have spent a great deal of time at Pearl Harbor have had the fortune of getting to know survivors and learning from them. The greatest lesson from the Pearl Harbor Survivors is the lesson of forgiveness. My favorite Pearl Harbor Survivor Stories came from Richard Fiske and Everett Hyland.

Richard Fiske hugging Zenji Abe

Pearl Harbor Survivor Richard Fiske hugging Japanese pilot Zenji Abe. 

Fiske was a bugler on USS West Virginia, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  After being hospitalized for bleeding ulcers, Fiske knew he had to stop hating.  He knew that he had to forgive.

Eventually, Fiske became close friends with a Japanese aviator who attacked Pearl Harbor. They met at an Arizona Memorial Association gathering in 1991 for the 50th anniversary of the attack.

The two agreed to place roses at the Memorial every month and Fiske would play taps on his bugle. Before playing he would tell visitors that he has no room in his heart for hatred despite the sinking of his ship and the loss of his friends.

Zenji Abe

Imperial Japanese Navy Lieutenant Zenji Abe poses in front of an Aichi D3A dive bomber on the deck of the aircraft carrier Akagi sometime in late 1941 or early 1942.

In 2003 Fiske was invited to the annual gathering of Japans largest veteran's group, Unabarakai.  He played his bugle and received many gifts, including a new Japanese brass bugle. Richard Fiske passed away in 2004.


Everett Hyland was on the deck of USS Pennsylvania when the attack began. His ship was in dry dock, but like all of the other battleships it suffered.  Hyland took forgiveness to an amazing level when he married a Japanese woman.

His wife, Miyoko, translated as Hyland met the pilot, Otawa, who dropped the bomb that put him in the hospital for 9 months.  They met at a sympsium bringing Pearl Harbor Survivors and WWII vetrans together with Japanese zero pilots.

If Hyland and Fiske are capable of such forgiveness then nobody has an excuse to continue hating.

In addition to their important lessons, the Pearl Harbor Survivors stories bring this important historical event to life.

Recently added Pearl Harbor Survivor Stories

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