His blunt message telling Obama to "shape up" went viral on the Internet
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 19, 2011
Harold B. Estes, a World War II veteran credited with helping bring the USS Missouri and Bowfin museums to Hawaii, and who gained Internet fame with a letter written to President Barack Obama telling him to "shape up and start acting like an American," died Tuesday.
Honolulu attorney Stuart Cowan, a friend and Masonic Lodge brother, said Estes was 96.
"Harold was very active in the Navy League. He was the guy who brought the Bowfin and Missouri to Honolulu and he was highly, highly thought of throughout our community," Cowan said.
Estes lived in a care home in Ewa Beach, Cowan said. He moved to Hawaii in 1963 from Oklahoma.
Cowan said the Missouri, Navy League and friends and colleagues are making arrangements for his burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl with his wife, Doris, who died a couple of years ago.
"Everyone loved him. He was a gentleman," Cowan said.
According to a tribute to Estes put together by the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Estes enlisted in the Navy in 1934 and served on the battleship California until he was honorably discharged in 1938.
In 1939, Estes re-enlisted and in 1943 was promoted to chief petty officer while serving on the USS Iuka. His last command was on the USS Henrico. He retired as a master chief boatswain's mate.
Bringing the battleship Missouri to Pearl Harbor started as an idea tossed around in 1994 by Estes, retired Adm. Ron Hays and Navy veteran Edwin Carter, according to the museum.
A letter critical of Obama penned by Estes several years ago went viral on the Internet and references to it are still numerous.
"One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man," Estes wrote.