The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy photo)

Harry L. Chandler knows he's among the last of a vanishing breed.

His fellow members of Massachusetts' Pearl Harbor Attack Veterans Post 1 are now gone. The post had its final meeting in June 2008 at the old Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke, and its state organization disbanded later that same year.

His dear friend Robert A. Greenleaf, of Westfield, who was post commander, died two years ago. "What a loss," reflects Chandler one recent afternoon.

Before and since Greenleaf's passing, most all of the Western Massachusetts veterans who were at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, have died.

Borucki. Woicekoski. Lockhart. Toms. Mieleszko. Grimaldi. Fitzhugh. Kostanski. Stoklosa. And, more.

One by one, the voices of the men, many of whom each year shared recollections of that fateful day that propelled America into World War II, have fallen silent. Charles J. Lockhart, of East Longmeadow, was 95 when he died last Christmas Day. In September, William Kostanski, of Greenfield, died at 101. Only when his family surprised him with a 100th birthday party did Kostanski relent to speak – if only fleetingly – about his experiences at Honolulu's Schofield Barracks all those years ago. For decades, he never spoke about it.

Today, on the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Chandler, who grew up in Holyoke, chooses to look to the future. "What more is there for us to talk about," he asks. His concerns are less about the past and more about today's soldiers and the challenges they face.

"What's going on today is horrendous," he says. "There's so much division in this country. It's terrible. Let's put it this way, we never would have won (World War II) if we had this kind of division."

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A bunch of hot air (Screenshots)

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