Richard Higgins, One Of The Last Survivors Of Pearl Harbor, Passes Away At The Age Of 102

( — A tiny percentage of human beings live to celebrate any birthdays over 100 but Richard Higgins, one of the remaining survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, was one of them. On Wednesday March 20, Higgins died at the age of 102, leaving behind him a son, a daughter, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife of 60 years, Winnie Ruth, preceded him in 2004 and when he went into hospice care last week, he told his granddaughter he was ready to be with her again.

Higgins’ granddaughter describes him as a kind and humble man. He was born July 24, 1921, on a farm in Magnum, Oklahoma, and he vividly remembered the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the hardships of the Great Depression that spanned the years between 1929 and 1939. He talked about the darkness of the dust and sand from the severe dust storms, as well as his father having to borrow money to keep the farm animals fed. He originally wanted to go into radio and television but couldn’t get the money together to go to school in Kansas City for the training he needed, so instead he joined the Navy, where he became an aviation mechanic.

While Higgins was stationed at Pearl Harbor naval base as a radioman assigned to a patrol squadron of seaplanes, he recalled that he’d gone out on patrol in mid-October 1941 and, upon returning, found that the Japanese had attacked. He said the morning of the airstrike, the seaplane he’d gone on patrol in had vanished, only to be replaced by an enormous crater. He spent the following days trying to get as many planes back into commission as possible and taking what rest he could on a cot in the plane hangar.

Higgins had an Instagram account, @quarantine_chats_with_gramps, where he shared stories of his life. He talked about the attack on Pearl Harbor, he told stories of his youth, and he shared pictures of his birthday party when he turned 102. Kathleen Farley, the California state chair of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, says that with Higgins’ death, there are now only 22 remaining survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Higgins always believed that the real heroes of the attack on Pearl Harbor were the ones who never made it home.

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