The last surviving officer of the USS Arizona, the ship that was bombed in the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, has died at 100 at a nursing facility in Northern California, his son said on Facebook.
Joseph Langdell was a 27-year-old ensign who was sleeping in quarters on shore when bombs rained down on the Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941, an attack that would draw the United States into the Second World War, according to a biography posted on a historical website honoring those who served aboard the ship.
“Rushing outside, he witnessed the Arizona sink in just nine minutes,” the website said.
Langdell immediately began working to rescue his shipmates, 1,177 of whom died in the attack, the website said.
Ultimately named a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Langdell ran a furniture business in the Northern California community of Yuba City, north of Sacramento, until his retirement.
He and his wife Libby raised two sons, John Mark, a retired Navy Commander, and Ted, who posts regularly about his father on Facebook and co-wrote the biography on the USS Arizona website.
Ted Langdell wrote on Facebook that his father died on Feb. 4.
“He was 100 years, three months and 24 days old,” Ted Langdell wrote. “A long-time listener to classical music, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the ‘Eroica’ played him off this life’s stage.”
Ted Langdell held his father’s hand as he died, the son wrote on Facebook. Joseph Langdell’s wife died two years earlier.
“During his 100 years, Joe Langdell had seen many things and changes,” his son wrote.
“His skills ranged from the use of wood stoves and outhouses in cold, New Hampshire winters, milking cows in his father’s barn, guiding horse-drawn buggies and driving early motor cars, building crystal radio sets and cranking party-line, operator-connected telephones, to using cell phones, e-mailing and surfing the Internet.”
Langdell’s ashes will be interred aboard the Arizona, his son said.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Ken Wills)