TYLER, Texas (AP) - One of only 15 Marines to survive the 1941 attack on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor has died at a Texas hospice.
Funeral services for Lamar Crawford Sr. were being held Wednesday, Paula Allums of Stewart Family Funeral Home in Tyler, said.
Crawford was 91 and died last week.
Rev. Paul Howell, who was officiating the funeral, described Crawford as a quiet man with a deep faith and trust in God who valued "hard work and honesty . trust and faithfulness and all the good virtues of life that characterized that great generation."
Crawford was born in Union County, Ark. In September 1940, three months after enlisting in the Marines, he was assigned to the Arizona.
On Dec. 7, 1941, he was at his battle station just below the crow's nest on the Arizona's rear tower when the ship exploded and began sinking. He dived into the water and was rescued by sailors in a small boat.
Crawford's recollections of that day are included among stories of survivors posted on the website of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.
He said he had been cleaning the rifle assigned to him, a 1903 Springfield Army rifle, and was standing outside the ship's Marine compartment when the first wave of Japanese warplanes attacked.
"I heard the sound of airplane motors, several of them," he wrote. "Looking up I saw a Japanese dive bomber coming directly toward the Arizona.
"About that time, machine-gun bullets from the plane started bouncing off the tub-type gun mount immediately to my right. Realizing that we were being attacked, and that the bullets from the diving warplane were addressed 'to whomever it may concern,' I did a quick dash back into the Marine compartment!"
He went to his battle station but found all communication lines were out.
"Explosions and fires were raging uncontrolled throughout the ship," he said. "Suddenly, the forward magazines exploded with a deafening roar. The ship raised several feet in the harbor waters, then slowly began to sink to the bottom of the shallow harbor, a total loss."
He said an officer told everyone there to abandon ship, wished them luck and offered God's blessings.
"We lost no time clambering down the ladders toward the ship's quarterdeck, to the main deck level. ... I sat down, took off my shoes and then dived into the water intending to swim to nearby Ford Island. As I hit the water a motor whaleboat, manned by two Navymen, pulled alongside me, helped me into the boat, and then the three of us continued through the area pulling other men from the water until we couldn't take on any more."
Crawford was discharged in 1946. The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported Wednesday that Crawford worked as a postal inspector after the war, retiring in 1976.
Survivors include Mildred Crawford, his wife of 69 years.