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'The greatest generation' | South Lake Tahoe man one of the last remaining Pearl Harbor survivors

Garfield Ware has a life of service to his country and state that he is very thankful to be recognized for.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The people who make Northern California strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Garfield Ware, one of the last remaining Pearl Harbor Survivors living in the U.S.

It doesn’t take a town to say thank you to a hero, but here in South Lake Tahoe, that’s just the kind of people they are. On Oct. 13, 2021, Garfield Ware was recognized by a number of politicians and the Lake Tahoe Veterans Alliance for his service in WWII.

From the deck of the USS Lexington on Dec. 7, 1941, Ware said he witnessed the beginning one of the greatest attacks on American soil. 

“I saw the Japanese flying over,” Ware said.

The day Japanese war planes bombed Pearl Harbor, the USS Lexington was too far out to sea to defend against the surprise attack. Instead, Ware and his fellow shipmates returned to a horrific rescue and recovery mission. 

“Terrible, made me feel bad to lose all these guys at Pearl Harbor. There was a big battleship turned over. I couldn’t stand that,” Ware said.

Ware is one of just a few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors still alive in the United States. He's a war hero that Daniel Browne, with Lake Tahoe Veterans Alliance, felt needed to be recognized before he is gone. 

“Garfield Ware, for those who don’t know,... is part of the greatest generation, the men and women that served during WWII,” Browne said.

Ware’s heroism doesn’t end at Pearl Harbor. One year later, he and the men on the USS Lexington would be caught up in the Battle of the Coral Sea, a deadly battle where a series of torpedoes sunk the Lexington. 

“I asked what was going on. They said abandon ship,” Ware said. 

Some 216 crewman were killed and more than 2,700, including Ware, spent hours in shark-infested water until he and his crew mates were finally rescued.

After serving six years in the military, Ware started a family and eventually went to work at the state capitol. He was a custodian who worked under five different governors. He has a life of service to his country and state that he is very thankful to be recognized for. 

“Yes! Ha! I am getting a little teary about it,” he said.

Garfield Ware is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission. 

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