Pearl Harbor survivor and decorated World War II pilot Jack Holder, 101, died last Friday at a hospital in Chandler, Arizona.
Holder was born in Gunter, Texas, and joined the U.S. Navy in 1940 at 18.
He was on duty at Ford Island during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the event which officially brought the U.S. into WWII.
Holder recalled in a 2016 interview with the Arizona Republic that he was only about 100 yards from the first bomb that fell. Holder also related that he dove into a ditch to avoid being struck by gunfire.
“That morning I watched as Japanese dive bombers devastated Pearl Harbor. I knew that we would no longer sit on the sidelines of the war ravaging Europe,” Holder told the news outlet.
After Pearl Harbor, Holder fought in the Battle of Midway. He flew missions in the South Pacific and later served in England.
Holder, who was honorably discharged in 1948, was awarded two Distinguishing Flying Cross medals, six air medals, a presidential citation, and six commendation medals during his military career, according to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
After his time in the Navy, Holder flew as a commercial and corporate pilot for 25 years. After retiring in Arizona, Holder used his free time to give educational talks on WWII, according to the executor of his estate and good friend, Darlene Tryon, according to the Arizona Republic.
When Holder was asked what his secret to a long life was, he responded, “good heart, exercise, and two scotch and sodas every night,” as reported by the Arizona Republic.
On the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, American Airlines flew a group of 63 WWII veterans to Hawaii, including Holder.
Randy Stillinger, manager of military and veterans initiatives for American Airlines, told The Dallas Express, “We were honored to have Mr. Holder join us as we brought 63 World War II veterans to Honolulu for the 80th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.”
“The loss of yet another member of our Greatest Generation reminds us of the importance of using our aircraft for great missions like that historic trip in 2021. Mr. Holder will surely be missed and we consider it a privilege to have spent some time with him,” Stillinger stated.
A memorial service will be held for Holder in Phoenix this April, according to Tryon, and his body will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.