HomeTop StoriesMinnesota 102-year-old, one of two remaining survivors of USS Houston

Minnesota 102-year-old, one of two remaining survivors of USS Houston

FOREST LAKE, Minn. – Of the more than 16 million Americans who served in World War II, less than 1%, or 120,000, are still with us.

Robert Hanley says he has spent the past 82 years thinking about the men lost on the USS Houston. The 102-year-old was only 20 when his ship was sunk by the Japanese navy.

“Only 464 of them got out when we smelled and 363 of them came back from my prison camp,” Hanley said. “So I think of them on Memorial Day and I pray for them.”

Today, Henley is only one of the ship’s two surviving crew members, as the number of World War II veterans continues to dwindle.

“We’re losing them at such a rapid rate,” said Christine Hanley, Robert’s granddaughter. “Their information and their inspiring stories should last a lifetime.”

Christine Hanley knows how inspiring the stories can be. Her grandfather is the reason for her career in the Navy.

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“It’s really interesting to know someone who has done something so incredible for our country and for other people. And to have the humor and humility that this man has at his age is just phenomenal,” said Christine Hanley.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a ceremony in Hanley’s honor was held at his hospice, with cake and stories shared with friends and family.

Christine Hanley encourages everyone to take the chance to meet men like her grandfather while they still can.

“I am honored to continue telling his story with him for the time being,” said Christine Hanley. “But I’m very aware of the fact that that’s fast… That window is closing quickly, so any chance people have to get out and talk to a veteran, especially World War II veterans, take take the opportunity.”

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