SAN DIEGO — A World War II hero and Pearl Harbor survivor was honored Wednesday with a celebration of life at the USS Midway Museum.
Stu Hedley survived a bomb attack aboard USS West Virginia on Dec. 7, 1941. A retired Navy chief petty officer, Hedley dedicated his post-military life to ensuring those who served and sacrificed during the attack on Pearl Harbor are always remembered.
Hedley died of coronavirus complications on Aug. 4, 86 days short of his 100th birthday. On Wednesday, the USS Midway Museum invited the public to honor his life.
Community members and military leaders gathered on the flight deck as Hedley was given full military honors, including a 9-gun salute and missing-man formation flyover.
“He just knew how to bring people together,” retired Command Master Chief Petty Officer Kathy Hansen said at the ceremony.
FOX 5 asked Hansen what she’ll miss most about Hedley.
“His hugs. Stu believed in getting 20 or 30 hugs a day, make you live a long life,” Hansen said. “His hugs and his kindness. I knew him for 20 years and never heard him say a bad word about anyone.”
Nancy Watson Evans, the wife of another Pearl Harbor survivor, said Hedley had an unforgettable presence.
“He was a dynamite. He had energy like I can’t believe. And his passion was never forget what happened at Pearl Harbor,” Watson Evans said.
Hedley’s wife Wanda preceded him in death and is buried in the Miramar National Cemetery. He is scheduled to be buried at her side.