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‘A leader among men’: Loved ones honor Hawaii’s last resident Pearl Harbor survivor By Dillon Ancheta

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – One of the few remaining links to Pearl Harbor’s past is now gone.

Family of war veteran Sterling Cale announced his passing Wednesday, saying he died on Jan. 20 at his Aiea home overlooking Pearl Harbor’s ‘Battleship Row’.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Cale was a 20-year-old pharmacist mate assigned to the U.S. Naval Hospital. He was wrapping up working a night shift when he saw military maneuvers in action. He thought it was odd for a Sunday.

“But right then, an aircraft flew over his right shoulder and it gave him shudders he said,” his son, Sterling Cale Jr. said. “As it banked, he saw the ‘red meatball’ of the Japanese empire and he knew that we were at war.”

Cale quickly jumped in to action as chaos ensued around him.

At one point, he dove into the burning water to save his fellow servicemen.

“He saw that what he had to do was swim underwater and try to save as many as he could,” Cale Jr. said. “He knows that if he comes up, breathes that fire, he’s gonna be destroyed. So he’s down there searching for these guys on the bottom … and skins coming off and everything else, and he’s getting these guys and swimming back.”

In all, he saved 46 men that day.

But beyond Pearl Harbor, Cale also fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was a beloved member of the armed forces who touched the lives of many over the years. Cale Jr. said his father helped shape his own time in the military.

“I used to go around as a child with him and watch how he handled all the troops and everything, and of course that helped me in my career, the things that I saw him do,” Cale Jr. said. “Not stern, but he’d come into a Saturday inspection and say, ‘Haven’t you guys left yet?’ You know, make it a little humorous so they wouldn’t feel so tight as they’re going through inspection. And it made him very well liked by his people.”

Cale added, “I would describe my dad as a humble man that was very strong of character, religious conviction and a leader among men.”

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