PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII -- The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would define the life of Oak Harbor's Glenn H. Lane forever.
Lane was Washington state's last USS Arizona survivor. I first met him during the 50th Anniversary observance of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1991. He was visiting the Arizona for the first time since he was thrown from turret four when Japanese bombs hit the battleship.
"Just this side of Number Four," said Lane pointing to the turret sticking out of the waters of Pearl Harbor that cloudy December day. "I was fighting a fire back there when she blew and wiped me clear off the ship."
Lane swam to a nearby battleship, the Nevada, and climbed aboard. The Nevada, however, was hit by a torpedo and at least six bombs. The crew beached it inside the harbor to keep the vessel from sinking and blocking the narrow harbor entrance.
Lane was 23 years old then, a radioman third class. As he gazed at the names of the more than 1100 sailors entombed in the Arizona, he shook his head. "Too many good young men had to be sacrificed."
Lane served 30 years in the Navy, retiring as Master Chief. He was finally awarded a Purple Heart in 2004. It took that long, he admits, partly because he didn't want to bother with all the paperwork.
"Purple Heart?," he said on April 18, 2004. "It wasn't top of our minds. We had jobs to do and decorations were the least of our worries. In fact, we figured we'd all be dead in six months anyway the way we were taking a beating!"
His daughter, Trish Anderson, watched him receive the medal and said, "He's been my hero my whole life and he still is, especially today."
"I don't consider myself a hero at all," replied Lane. "The heroes are still out there."
Today, September 12, 2012, divers placed Glenn Lane's remains under Turret Four, the same turret he was trying to save on December 7th nearly 71 years ago.