The Cambrian

Pearl Harbor survivor to speak in Cambria on Veterans Day

As the long, divisive and difficult 2016 election cycle draws to a close (we hope), it may help to reflect on how our country has weathered other painful times in the past.

At Cambria’s Veterans Day ceremony (11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, inside the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.), Navy veteran Lester “Les” Lindow of Hemet, 94, will share his haunting memories of a day that changed the world — Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into World War II.

Lindow was assigned as both a baker and to an anti-aircraft gun battery aboard the U.S.S. Maryland at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Only one other ship separated the Maryland from the Arizona. According to, a bomb breached the Arizona’s forward ammunition room, and about 1,100 servicemen died on board.

After Pearl Harbor, Lindow served five more years on several ships, including an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific.

Lindow has been flying since he was 13 years old and still holds a private’s pilot license. For 20 years, he flew physicians in and out of Mexico, working with Doctors Without Borders.

American Legion Post No. 432 sponsors the annual Veterans Day commemoration that honors all who have served in the U.S. military.

Following the ceremony, the Sons of the American Legion and the Legion Auxiliary will serve hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and dessert.

Local veterans groups, including the local Legion post and Central Coast Honor Flight, are sponsoring Lindow’s trip back to Pearl Harbor in December, so he and some family members can participate in the 75th anniversary ceremonies.

According to the Pacific War Birds website, the 110-minute surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began just shy of 8 a.m. that Sunday. The Japanese attacked with 353 planes and some mini subs. In the harbor area known as “Battleship Row,” all eight ships were attacked. Four of them sank.

The website states that 2,335 U.S. servicemen and 68 civilians were killed in the attack; 1,143 servicemen and 35 civilians were wounded.