Everett Hyland, fist-bumping, quipping and obliging.
“Every day above ground is a good one,” Hyland says.
At Pearl Harbor’s Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, Hyland volunteers his time, for 23 years now, and is 95 years old.
“It gets me out of the house.”
And close to his memories as an 18-year old sailor on the Pennsy, the battleship USS Pennsylvania.
“I was a smart teenager I figured if we ever go to war, the last place I’d want to be stuck is in the radio quarters down in the middle of the ship,” Hyland says.
And that’s where he was, when peace shattered.
The Pennsy was in dry dock across battleship row. Hyland ran up to the battle station on the AFT deck. He says five high altitude bombers flew overhead.
“They all released their bombs at the same time and we took one hit,” Hyland says.
The ships Downes and Cassin in front of the Pennsy destroyed. Behind was smoke billowing from the Arizona.
“The other fellows with me, Harold Comstock, Clarence Hoss, Joe Mahofski, Jim Owens and Joe Pace were killed,” Hyland says.
Hyland wounded beyond recognition.
“He came over and he bent over and he looked at me and he said who are you? I said it’s Hyland and all he did was back away and go “ah, ah” very good for the morale, evidently I was quite a mess,” Hyland says.
Nine months of recovery and he was back on the ship, only left the Navy after the war ended.
Hyland’s a retired elementary school science teacher. He moved to Hawaii in the year of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when he met his wife Miyoko, from Japan.
He used to volunteer here five days a week, now it’s down to one with no plans of going to none.
“I’m as proud as these fellas are with their uniform on, they’re in a great organization,” Hyland says.