Look closely at the photograph to the right of this WWII veteran – a carrier-based Helldiver torpedo bomber manned by a 20-year-old pilot and 17-year-old tail gunner, Joe Neves. Now 92, he is the last surviving WWII veteran to serve with the Navy’s famed Tophatters squadron.
Mr. Neves found out about the bombing of Pearl Harbor as he exited a movie theatre in New York City on December 7, 1941. Determined to fight for his country, he had to wait three years until he was 17 and old enough to enlist.
I was honored to meet and speak with him last week. He gave me a signed copy of an artist’s rendering of his plane. He told me to take good care of it because there are only 18 copies left.
The USS Midway Museum in San Diego is a moving tribute to veterans who have served our nation with courage, honor, and sacrifice.