For many Central Oregon Daily News Viewers, Dick Higgins of Bend needs no introduction. Over the years, we’ve shared the Pearl Harbor survivor’s story and were there last year when he returned to Hawaii to mark the 80th anniversary of the attack.
We checked in with the Navy veteran again ahead of today — the day that 81 years since the event that launched America into World War II.
“There’s a lot of things that happen in a hundred years or so,” said Dick.
101, actually. And to be exact, 37,027 days.
“Of course a lot of that stuff I can’t remember anymore, because time has past,” said Dick. But there’s one day he’ll never forget.
“It all started on Sunday morning, they woke me up.”
December 7, 1941.
“We headed for the hangar area which is about a a quarter or half-mile away. And got down there about the time the second wave came in,” he says. “We were busy. We were trying to save as many planes as we could.”
It was one day that stretched into four.
“We didn’t get back to the barracks until about the middle of the week, next week.”
An all-out effort for a nation now at war.
“We didn’t have any that were flyable when it was over with so some of them we could repair so we were working on those.”
Dick’s granddaughter, Angela Norton, has heard the stories.
“It’s something that I grew up always listening to hearing my grandfather talk about Pearl Harbor. And he was one of the lucky ones, one of the blessed ones to be able to tell his story,” said Angela.
And she accompanied him to ceremonies at Pearl Harbor.
“Starting the 50th anniversary on, he would go every five years,” she said.
That included last December.
“I think it was raining or something, it was not good weather,” said Dick. “Kinda brought back some of the memories of what it was like.”
“It was such a huge part of our year as a family to be able to go there together with him, with our children,” said Angela.
So what has Dick been up to the last 365 days?
“He goes to church regularly. He had a Veterans Day luncheon, the Veterans Day parade, doing the Madras Air Show,” said Angela.
And of course, there a birthday for the man they call “Gramps.”
“101, OK. I’m on the downhill slide,” Gramps jokes.
“I mean you’re 101. You can’t get a lot places all the time but having some of those monumental events to still be a part of, I think makes him continue to live,” said Angela. “He’s seen a lot of stuff in his life.”
Including a very big one on that fateful day in December.
“Scared, but doing what we were supposed to be doing,” said Dick.
Leaving a lasting impact on a lifetime of 37,027 days and counting.
In case you missed it, below is our coverage from last December when we went with Gramps to Pearl Harbor.