LOUISIANA (KLFY)– The last Pearl Harbor survivor from Louisiana has died.
Veteran Joe Richard’s death comes just two months after his 100th birthday. He passed away peacefully at his home in Sunset, surrounded by family.
Richard was only 18-years-old when Japanese fighter planes dropped bombs and torpedoes on the U.S. naval base more than 80 years ago. While more than 2,000 Americans were killed, Richard miraculously survived.
“He was one of the lucky ones,” Richard’s daughter, Connie Richard Figueron, told News 10.
Looking back at photos of her father, Figueron remembers his stories about the attack.
“It was very hard for him to talk about it,” she explained.
Richard was aboard the U.S.S. Rigel when the Japanese began dropping bombs. The bomb that landed on his ship, however, never blew.
“The bomb did not go off, but the ship did have shrapnel and many, many holes,” Figueron said.
Her father, a young navy soldier at the time, told her the stories of jumping into battle.
“The water was all on fire. They had the oil and the gas. They just went to work and did whatever they could. At some point, I’m sure they had to stop. There was fire all around, but they were able to go out on the water and look for anyone that they could help,” she recalled from her father’s stories. “They saved so many on the Oklahoma and on the Arizona. They were able to rescue them.”
After Pearl Harbor, Richard returned home to Louisiana. He served in the navy once again during the Korean War then stepped away to focus on family.
He worked in plants in Baton Rouge then moved back to his hometown of Sunset, where he spent the next 50 years as a welder. In July, Richard celebrated his 100th birthday.
“He just loved his country,” Figueron said. “I don’t think he ever regretted signing up. He thinks all, everybody should serve, especially the young men coming up because it’s an honor to serve your country.”
The city of Church Point honored Richard this year by declaring July 23, Richard’s birthday, as ‘Joe Richard Day.’