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Laura Austin Photo / Ridgecrest’s own 100 year old veteran, Edward Valerio shares war stories.

100-year-old Edward Valerio remembers Pearl Harbor

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer– In the November 11 Issue of the News Review, 100-year-old veteran Edward Valerio told us about his participation in the Battle of Komandorski. Valerio also has war stories about Pearl Harbor. He is not considered a Pearl Harbor survivor, but he was in close enough proximity to have strong memories.

“After I completed boot camp, they asked me what type of ship I wanted,” remembers Valerio. “I said, a heavy cruiser – the USS Augusta.’  Because she was in China, and I wanted to go to China.” he explains. “I don’t know why, but I wanted to go to China.  So when I graduated from boot camp, they sent me to Vallejo, California assigned to the Salt Lake City. I stayed on her for over three years.

   “While I was in, the war broke out on December 7, 1941.  I had been in the Navy already for a year and three months. When I went to the Salt Lake City  she was going under repairs in Vallejo. So I stayed with her there. We finished repairs and went to Long Beach and was in Long Beach for maybe three days. Then from there we went to Pearl Harbor. I’d never heard of Pearl Harbor before.  November of 41 we went to Wake Island. We escorted the Enterprise and dropped off 16 fighter planes. We were just coming back from Wake Island.”

   They were heading to Pearl Harbor to refuel at 10am. “And the war broke out at 8. Wow!  And we were getting ready to go in. So we missed all the battle there.

   “They passed the word at eight o’clock. It was on a Sunday. We were getting ready for church and they rang the the general alarm. ‘Everybody man your battle stations. This is no drill.’ And we thought, ‘What no drill?’ And then they announced that Japan had just attacked Pearl Harbor and we were ready to go in at 10 o’clock. And war broke out at eight. Wow!” he exclaims again at this memory. “So they told us to scout around and look for the for the fleet that bombed Pearl Harbor. We went south and they were north so we couldn’t find them. 

   “We stayed out all day long and we didn’t go into Pearl Harbor that day. Then that next morning, Monday, at six o’clock we started to go in because we had to get fuel because we went to Wake and back and we were low on fuel. So we had to get fuel. As we were going in, I saw the battleship The Nevada. She had beached. She was the only ship that  got underway. She was getting out of the channel. The Japanese saw her and torpedoed her. The Nevada didn’t have a captain, they had a chief. The chief got hold of that ship and he backed it in. He didn’t want to just sink in the harbor. If it would have sunk in the harbor we wouldn’t be able to get in or get out. So he beached it.” 

   He recounts what he saw in the harbor, “We went in there and that water was just full of oil, oil all over, bodies floating all over the place. Oh my! And the Arizona blown up. She was completely destroyed. And the Utah and Oklahoma. The Utah was turned over. The Oklahoma was sunk down to her keel. The West Virginia and The  California were all sunk down. They didn’t all sink you know. So the only ones that were destroyed was the Utah, the Arizona and the Oklahoma. 

   “After that we got fueled and we left.  We got out of there because we thought they might come back again. We stayed out and we looked and looked all over the place. We couldn’t find nothing.

   When asked if he was scared, replied, “No, not scared. We were looking for them.”