Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Hawaii that led to America’s involvement in World War II. To commemorate the day, the U.S. Navy–which bore the brunt of the attack–sent out this photo today of Nelson Mitchell, a Pearl Harbor survivor, in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial during a recent visit.
Mitchell, who joined the navy in 1940, was serving on the destroyer USS Jarvis at the time of the attack, according to this KTAR news story on him from 2013. For African-Americans like Mitchell, the segregated armed forces offered few opportunities for duty or advancement.
“All of the whites, they could do anything they wanted to on the ship,” Mitchell said in the KTAR story. “But we were restricted to waiting on the officers. But that was a better life than what I had working on a farm.”
The Jarvis survived the Pearl Harbor attack unscathed, but Mitchell was soon transferred off the ship. It was a good thing, too–the Japanese sunk the Jarvis on Aug. 9, 1942 during the Battle of Guadalcanal. There were no survivors.
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tamara Vaughn/US Navy