On December 7, 1941, an explosion blew sailor Glenn Lane off the burning deck of the U.S.S. Arizona. On Wednesday, he returned to the Arizona a final time to join his shipmates in a ceremony that may be among the last of its kind.
Lane died December 10, 2011, in Mount Vernon, Wash. He was 93.
Lane flew as an air crewman on the battleship's Kingfisher Scout planes. After the explosion blew him off the Arizona, he dog-paddled to the U.S.S. Nevada, where sailors refused to let him into a casemate -- one of the gun rooms -- because he was covered in oil. "So he closed the door and he went into the second casemate," said his daughter, Trish Anderson. "The bomb that hit the Nevada hit the first casemate and killed everybody in it.
After Pearl Harbor, Lane went on to a 30-year career in the Navy, retiring in 1969 as a Command Master Chief. He also told his story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. "He loved to talk at grade schools, he loved to talk to the new chiefs, he talked at churches. He loved to tell his story to anybody that could tell it to, and talk as long as he could to anybody who would sit and listen for as long as they could," said Anderson.
"I remember one time I asked him, 'How come you swam to the Nevada when you got blown off the Arizona? Why didn't you swim to Ford Island?' And about four hours later, he was almost done describing everything that happened once he was blown off the Arizona."
Lane also helped historians at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, where he became a good friend to National Park Service Ranger Daniel Martinez, chief historian of the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the Arizona. "These relationships that we have, we're so lucky to have in the park service, and the Navy has those relationships as well," said Martinez. "As we get to know them, we get to know their families, and then we get to say goodbye."
Lane was interred at the Arizona with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, the presentation of the flag and the playing of taps. The final goodbye came as Anderson handed the silver urn with Lane's ashes to Navy divers; one of them held up the urn as they swam away from the memorial's dock, and then they went below to return Lane to his ship.
Lane is the 36th survivor of the Arizona to be interred on the battleship. According to Martinez, there may be as few as a dozen survivors still alive, making there ceremony one of the last. "Today was historic because there are less and less of these," he said.
"There's so few of them left that I think it's important to give them as much attention as you possibly can," said Anderson.