Ed Guthrie, 102, is believed to be the last living Nebraskan who personally witnessed the raid on Pearl Harbor.
The 23-year-old electrician’s mate 2nd class was reading a comic book on the deck of the USS Whitney, a destroyer tender at Pearl Harbor, when he heard bombs dropping nearby on Ford Island. He later described Japanese aircraft flying so low, he could see the pilots' faces.
After the attack, Guthrie spent several days helping to pick up bodies in the waters surrounding the sunken wrecks of Battleship Row. He saw further service aboard the USS Banner — named for a county in Nebraska — in the latter part of the war and during the 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific.
Later, Guthrie worked as an electrician for the Omaha Public Power District for 34 years.
Last year, Guthrie was honored at a Pearl Harbor Day commemoration by Gov. Pete Ricketts. His daughter, Peg Murphy, who heads the state chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of any similar events this year. The annual ceremony at Pearl Harbor was also cancelled.
In 2016, Guthrie, wife Janet and several family members attended the annual memorial ceremony in Hawaii.
“All the grandkids wanted me to go,” Guthrie said at the time. “This will probably be the last time.”
Murphy said her father is the only one of 18 people in his unit at a local assisted-living facility who has not contracted COVID-19 this fall. Four of them have died.
Guthrie lost his wife to cancer in August. She was 92.
“They were married for 72 years,” Murphy said. “He misses her so much.”