Register | Forums | Log in

SMITH: This Dec. 7, 5 fewer Pearl Harbor vets

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:10 p.m.

More than one-third of the known Pearl Harbor survivors in Sonoma and Lake counties died this past year.

All five recently departed Pearl vets, ages 88 to 94, will be remembered with a tolling of a ship's bell at a memorial Friday at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa.

It starts with an $8 breakfast at 7:30 a.m., the program following at about 9.

Among the vets who'll be absent but honored Friday:

FRANK SENNELLO: One year ago, the retired teacher toiled to ensure everything was in order for the 70th Anniversary observance of the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter.

As a large crowd filed into the Vets Building last Dec. 7, the question of the morning became, “Where's Frank?”

The nimble 90-year-old went into a hospital with pneumonia the day before.

For decades, he'd gone into classrooms and told students by the thousands that the greatest impact of Pearl Harbor was that previously divided Americans awoke Dec. 8 unified and eager to defend their country.

The ex-submariner died Jan. 3 at his Larkfield home.

DICK STEELE: With his beaming personality, fondness for hauling homemade chili to a downtown Santa Rosa soup kitchen and love of Big Band music, the 94-year-old Steele was a favorite of his fellow Pearl vets.

He was in the boiler room of the dry-docked destroyer USS Downes when the attack came. Years later, he helped PG&E bring the first geothermal plants to The Geysers.

He died Jan. 27.

GENE OLIVER: Although happy, the tin-can sailer was haunted all his life by his first task at Pearl Harbor.

Then 20, he and a second seaman from the destroyer USS Dale were ordered to take a small boat across the harbor and pick up the Dale's captain. Although they came upon many wounded sailors in the water, their orders prohibited them from stopping.

“I know that we should have stopped looking for the captain and rescued some of those sailors,” he said in 2002.

The Windsor resident passed away March 6 at 90.

WALT URMANN: The former sailor and his sweetheart, ex-Navy nurse Alice Darrow, made Page 1 of The Press Democrat last Dec. 7.

The story told how the pair fell in love after the deaths of Urmann's wife, Iris, and Darrow's husband, Dean, also a Pearl Harbor survivor,

Urmann, who'd served aboard the destroyer USS Blue and wept when it was scuttled, died March 25 at home in Kelseyville at 88.

BUD BONER: That world-altering morning in 1941, Clarence “Bud” Boner was ordered to perform tasks below decks of the battleship USS Tennessee. The Clearlake Oaks resident sometimes said he woke up a boy that day and went to bed a man.

Remaining in the Navy Reserve after the war, he was called back for Korea and earned a Purple Heart.

He died Nov. 21 at 90.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top