A legend in Army Medicine shares his World War II survivor story

| December 17, 2014 | 1 Comment
Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, receives a manning roster from Dec. 8, 1941, as a memento during his visit to the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Dec. 5, 2014, from Sgt. Maj. Doug Wallace. (Courtesy of Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs)

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, receives a manning roster from Dec. 8, 1941, as a memento during his visit to the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Dec. 5, 2014, from Sgt. Maj. Doug Wallace. (Courtesy of Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs)

Ana Allen, Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, a member of the “Greatest Generation,” returned to Hawaii to share his World War II survivor story with the Army’s current generation of leaders, Dec. 5, 2014, and to relive the memories of the day that changed history forever.

Hardaway served as a ward officer on the surgical service, where he treated the first casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, at the then North Sector General Hospital at Schofield Barracks.

U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks leaders held a ceremony in Hardaway’s honor, presenting him with a photo album, a coin and a traditional Hawaiian lei.

During the ceremony, Hardaway recounted the moments of the attack and shared them with Soldiers, civilians and leaders in attendance.

“The ambulance came roaring in, and I ran over and opened the back door, and there were these poor Soldiers that were just blown apart. And I knew instantly that this was a war. The bullets were coming from everywhere. There must have been hundreds of bullets in the hospital. Most of them on my ward,” said Hardaway.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, tours the very spots where he performed surgical procedures on Dec. 7, 1941, during his visit to the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks)

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, tours the very spots where he performed surgical procedures on Dec. 7, 1941, during his visit to the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks)

When a total blackout was ordered, he performed lifesaving surgery under a blanket with flashlights, working 48-hours to care for over 100 Soldiers.

Following the ceremony, Hardaway toured the clinic and said seeing the grounds once again brought a sense of relief.

“I had feared the whole hospital had been leveled and replaced by a new clinic, but I was amazed and gratified that the original wards and headquarters have been preserved. That shows that the significance of the events that day were well understood and appreciated.”

Hardaway walked the corridors of the clinic, and he met with many staff, civilian and military, who had a real sense of what their predecessors had experienced.

“It was such a pleasure to see their enthusiasm and sincere regard for my role as a surviving representative of those who had worked through the attack so many years ago. These young staff today are worthy successors to that legacy,” Hardaway said.

“When I look back on this trip, I will always remember the very touching ceremony in the clinic courtyard: the kind remarks, the interest shown by those present and the opportunity to shake their hands afterwards — a sort of passing on of history,” he said.

Members of Hardaway’s family were also in attendance during the ceremony, to include his daughter, who says she felt honored to see the appreciation and regard shown to her father for his contributions during the attack and its aftermath.

“Finally I can visualize the setting of all those stories, not just a few grainy black and white photos. I was so relieved to see the layout and appearance so faithfully preserved and restored. Even with the rehab equipment, I could envision the rows of beds packing his surgical ward that day. The whole experience was transforming for me, and I can’t thank everyone enough for making it possible,” said Joan Hardaway.

Col. Peter Eberhardt, USAHC-SB commander, said that having Hardaway’s family at his clinic was an incredible event for staff.

“What an awesome opportunity for our team to internalize what the veterans from the attack went through, and how their actions directly shaped our future. Hearing the story firsthand was extremely powerful, and we were so happy we had the chance to salute the general and his family. Long overdue and extremely well deserved! What a great day to be an American and personally engage with living history and living heroes,” said Eberhardt.

Col. Peter Eberhardt, commander, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, listens while retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, recounts his story during his visit to the clinic Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks)

Col. Peter Eberhardt, commander, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, listens while retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hardaway III, World War II survivor, recounts his story during his visit to the clinic Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks)

Hardaway was also a featured guest at the 73rd commemoration ceremony of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2014.

As the highest ranking survivor and a month shy of his 99th birthday, Hardaway represents the few service members who are still alive today.

According to his biography, Hardaway also served as commander of William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in El Paso, Texas, before retiring from the Army in 1975.

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Category: Leadership, News, Observances, Veterans

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