ALEX CITY, Ala. (WSFA) - He’s believed to be the only remaining survivor in Alabama to have witnessed firsthand the horror at Pearl Harbor, an attack that catapulted the United States into World War II.
Wednesday, Master Sgt. Thomas Davis marked another moment in history. He turned 99.
Davis said he witnessed the first bomb being dropped on the USS Arizona as it sat in Pearl Harbor, killing 1,102 of the ship’s 1,177 sailors and Marines. It was a quiet Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, that quickly turned violent.
The Japanese attack was the first conflict Davis would witness, but it wasn’t his last. In total, he served his country for more than 30 years in three major wars: WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Members of his family gathered at Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City to celebrate the man’s life. Among them was organizer Lebronze Davis, a Vietnam vet himself, who is also one of 11 of Davis’ nephews.
Davis was featured in a segment produced by the Alabama Nursing Home Association in 2016 as a way of marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
In the segment, he recounts what he witnessed in Pearl Harbor.
While there are other WWII veterans in Alabama who were in Pearl Harbor around the same time as the attack, Davis is believed to be the state’s only known survivor to actually witness the attack.
As for the USS Arizona, 2018 was the first year in which none of the survivors attended a commemorative ceremony. Of the 355 who lived through the attack, fewer than five are still known to be living today.