HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Sherwin Callander, one of Huntsville’s most beloved citizens and a World War II veteran, died Monday night. He was 102 years old.
Callandar died at the Floyd E. Tutt Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville, where he spent the last 12 years of his life. He frequently shared his experiences in the Navy, including his time removing the bodies of fallen comrades from the waters of Pearl Harbor after its attack in 1941.
Prior to his death, he was believed to be the oldest surviving Pearl Harbor survivor in Madison County.
In a 2019 interview, when recalling this attack, Callandar said, “We were coming back from Wake Island and the Japanese carrier passed us. They didn’t want to spoil the surprise so they let us go.
He called it, “The worst mess I’ve ever seen in my life.” There were still bodies in the water. I had to help get them out.
In that interview three years ago, Callandar said his advice to young men entering the armed forces would be, “Let them remember Pearl Harbor from now on and let it never happen again.”
When asked in 2017 what made him join the armed forces, Callandar gave a clear and simple answer.
“Dude they try to introduce us, he says you’ll get a girl in every port,” he explained. “I said ‘sign me up’.”
Callandar said even in his 70s he tried to volunteer to serve again in the Gulf War.
“When Desert Storm started, I went and tried to volunteer, and they wouldn’t take me,” he said in 2014. “I got mad at them and they wouldn’t. still didn’t want to take me.”
Callandar has told News 19 several times that the best way to honor a veteran is to simply thank them for their service.
“Kids need to know what the military has been through and how many have been killed,” Callandar said at a Bob Jones school event five years ago. “They were only three or four years older than these kids we’re talking to.”
“Every time you see [a veteran], approach him,” he said. “It will make their chest puff out a little when you shake their hand and thank them.”
Her granddaughter said a memorial service will be held in a few weeks.
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