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Pearl Harbor Survivor Herbert Elfring Dies

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

HONOLULU – Pearl Harbor survivor Herbert Elfring died Saturday, May 25, in

Michigan. He was 102.

The U.S. Army veteran was among five survivors attending the 82nd Commemoration on December 7, 2023, at Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

ONE Stop Veterans Resource announced his death on Facebook.

“After a brief and sudden illness, Herb went up to Heaven,” the organization said in its

post. “His body weakened, but his spirit did not—he was joking with the nurses, making

sure he had his special WWII cap on and asking if his Pearl Harbor shirt was safe in the

cabinet right to the end of his earthly time.”

Elfring enlisted in the Army in 1940 as a private. On the day Pearl Harbor was attacked,

he was a 19-year-old stationed in the Army’s 251st Coast Artillery short range radar

station at Camp Malokole, some three miles from Pearl Harbor.

He recalled hearing distant sounds of bombing and planes. But like many others on

Oahu that Sunday morning he believed them to be a practice drill or maneuvers.

Not until the Japanese planes approached the radar station that Elfring saw the red

circles of the Rising Sun on their wingtips. And then the planes opened fire.

“Their bullets missed the radar but severed the power source,” Elfring said. “We could see the enemy plane---just over the mesquite bushes—coming right at us. At the last moment, the track of one Japanese plane shifted ever so slightly, and the line of bullets barely missed me and my crew. To this day, I wonder if the Japanese pilot had a moment of kindness or if the winds had pushed him slightly off course.”

Elfring served in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. He was discharged in

1945 as a captain.

He was a frequent visitor to Pearl Harbor over the years. At the 81st Commemoration,

he met the keynote speaker, National Park Service director Charles “Chuck” Sams.

He was known for being kind and bringing a lot of smiles. At the 82nd, he greeted Rosie

the Riveters at various events, including a pizza party in Waikiki organized for the

record eight Rosies in attendance at that commemoration.

Herb was also one of the co-founders of the ONE Stop Veterans group.

They host projects, from cooking classes, farming, gold mining, and most recently

beekeeping, said Annie Callahan of ONE Stop.

“Working with veterans and children, bridging the generations, and instilling the values of

our military into our children, our youth,” Callahan said.

Callahan said Elfring was passionate about helping people.

“Herb didn’t want anyone to be alone, he didn’t want anyone to feel alone, he wanted to

be their inspiration, whether it was support or the kick in the butt they needed, he

wanted to be a phone call away for everyone.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Jim McCoy

Pacific Historic Parks


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ABOUT: Headquartered in Waipahu, HI, Pacific Historic Parks is the non-profit cooperative association of the National Park Service and has been raising funds and providing support to NPS operations at Pearl Harbor since 1979 when the organization was known as the Arizona Memorial Museum Association. PHP’s mission is to “support the National Park Service through research, preservation, restoration, fund development, education and interpretive programs of World War II in the Pacific and other Pacific historic sites.” PHP also supports National Park Service operations at: Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai; the War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam, and the American Memorial Park on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Since 2014, Pacific Historic Parks has also partnered with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to support the Diamond Head State Monument. See

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