Veteran Spotlight Charles “Chuck” Herndon

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Chuck Herndon is now 90 years old but he still has vivid memories of his six years in the Navy from 1940 to 1946.

Herndon is a World War II veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

He was aboard the U.S.S. San Francisco in Pearl Harbor from 1940 to 1943. From 1943 to 1946 he was stationed in Oregon aboard the U.S.S. Oxford.

He was born on Jan. 5, 1922 in Chanute, Kan., and enlisted in the Navy five days after he turned 18. He was stationed in Hawaii aboard the heavy cruiser, U.S.S. San Francisco, but never left the Pacific Ocean. On December 7, 1941 — a date that virtually everyone knows — Herndon watched Japanese planes drop bombs and torpedoes on Pearl Harbor. He was in the Navy yard that day.

“I watched the U.S.S. Oklahoma sink and the U.S.S. Arizona destroyed,” Herndon said.

In 1943, Herndon was reassigned to the United States aboard the U.S.S. Oxford stationed in Oregon. This ship provided troop transfers to and from combat areas.

Herndon met his first wife in California in 1944. Her father owned the Chevy dealership in Cortez where he found himself working after he left the Navy in 1946. Cortez has been home ever since he left the military. He met his second wife, Wilma, here in Cortez. Coincidentally, she also served in the Navy as a lieutenant disbursing officer, however, they were not stationed together. They have been married for 47 years.

Herndon served as Montezuma County clerk for eight years from 1966-1974. He is an active member of the American Legion and VFW, as well as a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. That association was terminated on Dec. 31, 2011, because of the age and health of the membership board members. He attended the National Convention for Pearl Harbor survivors in 2010 in Hawaii.