Remembering Pearl Harbor Survivor Stu Hedley

“Remember Pearl Harbor and keep America alert!”

These words could be heard like a thunderstrike if you were anywhere within earshot of Stu Hedley. To know we will never get to hear his enthusiastic exclamations, especially him shouting “Stay in school” to young people, is incredibly difficult for us. On August 4th, we received the heartbreaking news that our friend Stu Hedley had passed away. This is the hardest part about what we do. These heroes become family for us and it hurts every time we lose one as if they were our own grandparents. Stu was only a couple months away from turning 100 and was going to be joining us this year for the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu. We will cherish the times we had with Stu and the honor and humility he taught us about life. Rest in peace, Stu. Alooooooooohaaaaaaaa!!!!

S1c. Stuart N. Hedley (Gun Pointer) USS West Virginia (BB-48), USN

Stu was born on October 29, 1921, in Orchard Park, New York. Stuart joined the navy in August 1940, he was stationed on the USS West Virginia. On December 7, when the alarm sounded, Stu was below deck. And when he came topside, he saw planes diving in. He heard a loud ‘BAM’ and there went the USS Arizona, exploding. The oil on the water burst into flames. The USS West Virginia was also hit. Stu was running across the deck when he saw a torpedo coming through the water heading for his ship. Because of the blast, Stuart jumped into the water, which had a layer of oil on it, but he swam as deeply as he could to avoid the burning oil. He made it to shore safely. After Pearl Harbor, Stuart was transferred to the USS San Francisco (CA-38) and took part in fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands.

Stuart went on to serve 16 years in the US Navy. He was discharged on June 4, 1956.