With friends and a massive cake, Pearl Harbor survivor 'Uncle Al' turns 98

With friends and a massive cake, Pearl Harbor survivor 'Uncle Al' turns 98

PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - The morning of Dec. 7, 1941 seemed like just another morning for Alfred Rodrigues, who was finishing his breakfast with his fellow sailors.

That's until he started hearing explosions followed by Japanese planes flying overhead.

"They were flying low enough that you could see the pilots' faces," he said.

Hearing first-hand accounts from Pearl Harbor survivors like "Uncle Al" are becoming increasingly rare – which is why each survivor's birthday becomes more special each year.

On Wednesday morning, "Uncle Al" turned 98 years old, and the public was invited to help him celebrate.

The birthday celebration began at 10:30 a.m. at the Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center, where Rodrigues and guests were treated to hula performances, jazz music and kind words from those who wished to honor his service.

"We're just glad that everybody was out here to have a good celebration for my father," said his daughter, Aulani Schenck. "He likes coming down here, it makes him happy and it keeps him young."

Born on Kauai in 1920, Uncle Al joined the U.S. Navy Reserves and was called to active duty in 1940. After the Pearl Harbor attack, he was transferred to various locations throughout the war before returning to Hawaii, where he retired after 24 years of service.

He has been volunteering at the visitor center for years, sharing stories and memories of his experience with thousands of people.

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