An 18-year-old Thomas Berg enlisted in the Navy and after boot camp requested to be with a buddy on the battleship USS Arizona but was assigned to the USS Tennessee instead.
“On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Tom saw the first Japanese Zeros flying over Pearl Harbor,” an obituary from Linde-Price Funeral Service in Sequim, Wash., states. “He spent that day of the Pearl Harbor attack at his battle station in boiler room No. 7. That night, he was able to sneak up to the main deck to look around at the damage. Honolulu was in complete blackout. The only light he saw was from the fires on the various other battleships and on Ford Island.”
The Washington state man died April 24 at the age of 97.
Berg and his wife, Lesa Barnes, had attended the 78th Pearl Harbor commemoration only a few months ago, noted Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Facebook.
Berg will be greatly missed at future Dec. 7 events, the command said, offering the traditional Navy sendoff, “Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.”
Each year, Berg and his wife returned to Pearl Harbor for the commemoration. He was grand marshal for the most recent Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade.
The couple married on Kauai in 1999 when he was 76 and she was 39. “For them, love was ageless,” the obituary said.
Even though he was 97, his death came as a surprise.
“In the few days preceding his passing April 24, he and his wife of 21 years, Lesa Barnes, hauled 1,600 pounds of yard waste to the county facility,” his obituary related. “He baked a chocolate cake and he and Lesa enjoyed every crumb. He unburied a cinderblock retaining wall and moved the blocks away for another project. He axed apart two stumps. He downed two trees, then cut them up for splitting. On the day before his passing, he and Lesa were designing a new vegetable garden, and he created yet another gadget to make Lesa’s life better. Tom went to bed Thursday night fully expecting a good and productive Friday.”