Second oldest WWII vet lives in Henderson
Saturday is December 7th.
It is the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that marked America’s entry into World War Two.
“December 7, 1941. A day that will live in infamy.”
When Japanese naval and air forces attacked the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the blow was devastating.
And many young men responded by joining the military or were drafted.
One of them was 35-year-old Elmer Hill, who at the time was principal of what was called Henderson Negro High School.
“So they just took me and put me in the service and left other people to carry on,” Hill says.
Drafted into the Navy, he served onboard the escort carrier USS Saginaw Bay, which saw action in the Mariannas and the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions.
One of 11 brothers, 6 of whom served, Hill was not only older than most of his fellow sailors, he is black, and the US military wouldn’t be integrated until 3 years after the war.
Although many African-Americans were consigned to rear echelon duty , many saw combat, and Hill commanded one of the carrier’s 15 gun stations.
He says their main worries were Japanese submarines and Kamikaze pilots.
“He started down,” Hill says. “When he got close enough to see him, he started doing this. But he didn’t stop coming. And so he was coming to do suicide on a ship. But when he came down, instead of hitting the ship, he hit the water. He hit the water.”
But he came home unscratched, as did his brothers.
Saturday he meets with the oldest WW II veteran, Richard Overton of Austin.
“On Saturday, you’re going to meet the other gentleman in Austin, who is the oldest veteran,” we told him.
“Oh, he’s the oldest veteran?” Hill replied.
“Right. And you’re the second oldest,” we answered. “Did you know that?”
“Yeah I told them I wasn’t old,” he smiled, “I just been here a long time(laughs).”