101-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor recognized after sharing his story

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WNDU) - From the very first moment they met, 28-year Navy veteran Steve Beam says he knew how special it would be to sit down with who he considers a “living legend.”

“To be able to talk to someone who actually was there the day the Japanese attacked our nation, you don’t know how honored and privileged I am,” Beam said during his Volunteer Veterans radio show on WTCA Monday morning.

He was talking about 101-year-old World War II Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor James C. Dewitt.

“Good morning! Welcome Chief Petty Officer James C. Dewitt,” Beam said.

Dewitt, who served six years in the Navy, says he is always open to sharing his story.

“Pearl Harbor’s story is not complete,” Dewitt said.

Believe it or not, Dewitt is also the only known Indiana veteran alive to have witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Music was playing on our ship’s intercom system and they kept saying we can see the planes, the smoke and everything and they were still playing music. They finally stopped and all of sudden, they said, ‘This is an air raid, take cover. This is an air raid, take cover,’” Dewitt recalled.

But he was not alone on Pearl Harbor. Dewitt says his brother was there too. On December 8 (1941), at about eight o’clock in the morning, I got a telegram from the red cross saying my brother was in the hospital from Pearl Harbor,” Dewitt explained.

It is a day Beam says will never be forgotten in U.S. History, a day that very few are still alive to share what happened.

“If somebody says would you want to meet the President of the United States or meet an 101-year-old veteran of World War II who was there for Pearl Harbor, you know who I would take? I would take the 101-year-old veteran,” Beam says.

And even though Dewitt is blind and bound to a wheelchair, he is as sharp as they come.

“What are you eating? What are you drinking because your memory is as sharp as they come?” Dewitt was asked.

“I thought everybody had good memory. People tell me all the time I got good memory. Don’t everybody?” Dewitt said laughingly.

Following Monday’s radio show, Dewitt was given a thank you note written by Indiana Senator Todd Young, a United State flag flown over the U.S. Capital Building, and a gifted hat, mug and letter from Beam’s family.

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