Raymond Haerry was born November 28, 1921, in Patterson, New Jersey. After high school, he was accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but ran away from home to join the Navy and landed in the middle of history.
He was 18 years old when he enlisted in 1940. In September of that year, he joined the USS Arizona as its crew prepared the battleship for war. He worked on the deck crew — cleaning, painting and operating the boats that ferried crew members to shore. On the morning of December 7, 1941, he had taken crew members to shore at Pearl Harbor, but he was back on the ship and eating breakfast when the attack started. Haerry could see enemy planes strafing the deck. He made it to his battle station on the anti-aircraft gun battery, but within minutes, the largest of the bombs rocked the Arizona. The explosion blew Haerry off the ship and into the water, but he survived. He made his way to nearby Ford Island, where he found a machine gun and began firing at planes until the attack subsided. The attack on Pearl Harbor launched America’s entry into World War II and forever changed the course of modern history. Haerry would go on to serve on other ships during WWII and the Korean War, and then taught at the officer candidate school in Newport, Rhode Island, until he retired from the Navy in 1964. He died September 27, 2016, in West Warwick, Rhode Island, at the age of 94.
Of the 1,512 sailors and Marines assigned to the USS Arizona when it sank, 1,177 died in the attack. Haerry’s passing leaves just five remaining survivors of the crew that were on board that day. His son, Raymond Haerry Jr., said his father wanted to be interred in the submerged ship at Pearl Harbor, an honor accorded to members of the ship’s final crew.
The Airpower Foundation was proud to join the American Airlines team for a special sendoff at DFW International Airport, as they brought Mr. Raymond Haerry to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on April 13, 2017, where he joined his fellow shipmates in a hallowed memorial to the great sacrifices that he and his fellow service members made for a grateful nation.