Arthur E. Hendrickson, formerly of Uvalde, celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday, May 31.
Hendrickson and his family came to Texas in about 1925 when his dad, who had worked for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., decided to come to Texas to run a ranch for a friend. They resided in Knippa until their move to Oregon in 1938.
Hendrickson and his brother each joined the Navy in February 1939 and 18 months later were on their way to Pearl Harbor aboard a destroyer. Hendrickson, then 22, was stationed at Ford Island, an islet in the center of Pearl Harbor, Oahu.
“It was a paradise in those days – Honolulu, Waikiki, the whole smear,” Hendrickson said in a previous interview with the Leader-News. Hendrickson said sailors had ideal working conditions and tropical working hours.
That is, until the early hours of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
“At around 7 a.m. that morning, he and his fellow sailors awoke to the Japanese bombing the planes on the airfields and the ships in the harbor,” said Hendrickson’s niece, Mary Harp, who resides in Uvalde. “They grabbed anything they could and began shooting at the Japanese as they flew overhead. They were credited with shooting down two Japanese planes that morning.”
According to Harp, Hendrickson’s brother, Wally Hendrickson, was also stationed at Ford Island. It was several hours before the siblings learned each had survived the attack.
In an interview in 2003, Hendrickson said bodies from the beach were taken up to a military cemetery called the Punch Bowl in an extinct volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Few United States planes were able to rise to the Japanese attack and none rose from Ford Island, according to Hendrickson’s account. He also noted some 2,300 U.S. military men died in the attack. Within 24 hours, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan.
In August of 1943, Hendrickson and his brother were both promoted to chief petty officer. Hendrickson was relocated to Guadalcanal.
“We went to Guadalcanal. My outfit came back to the states in the fall of 1944. We spent a year in the Naval Air Station in Shelton, Washington, and were on our way back to Guam when the war stopped when they dropped the big ones,” he said of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hendrickson stayed in the Navy long enough to retire, spending the last half of his career as a flight engineer. He retired with 19 years, six months and 17 days of military service under his belt.
These days, Hendrickson resides in an assisted living facility in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Belated birthday greetings go out to Hendrickson.
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