The oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor on Wednesday celebrated his upcoming 105th birthday by visiting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, where he was met by a flag-waving crowd.
Joseph Eskenazi traveled from his home in Redondo Beach, California, on Friday via Amtrak to make it to the event scheduled shortly before his 105th birthday on Jan. 30, The Associated Press reported.
Six other World War II veterans representing the Navy, Army and Marines flew to the museum for the event.
Actor Gary Sinise’s Soaring Valor Program organized the trip for the veterans. The project schedules visits for veterans of World War II to the museum built in their honor.
“It feels great,” Eskenazi told reporters at the museum after he took a photo with his great-grandson and his great-granddaughter.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Eskenazi served in the Army as a private first class. He said he remembers being woken up when a bomb fell near his barracks. He volunteered to drive a bulldozer to be used in clearing runways and was met with enemy machine gun fire.
“I don’t even know why — my hand just went up when they asked for volunteers,” Eskenazi said. “Nobody else raised their hand because they knew that it meant death. … I did it unconsciously.”