Williams Kherkher Salutes Pearl Harbor Survivor Frank Curre
"What happened that day is tattooed on my soul. I don't know why the good Lord saved me that day and not them boys to either side of me. I figure maybe he wanted me to be a messenger, so we might never forget, and so that something like this might never happen again. So I am going to tell our story as long as I have breath in my body. I owe it to the ones who never made it home."
Boson's Mate Curre was barely 18 years old on December 7, 1941, and according to Frank, "Never thought he'd live to see 18 and a half."
Now, 87 years old, Frank Curre is losing the breath he needs to tell his story. In November, this otherwise healthy and very active Pearl Harbor survivor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma disproportionately strikes our Navy veterans due to exposure they suffered to asbestos used as insulation throughout naval ships. Frank survived the attacks on December 7, 1941, but now faces a more determined enemy, one that has never signed an unconditional surrender, and one not susceptible to the will of a nation hell bent on retribution, if not its very survival. Mesothelioma has claimed the lives of thousands of our Greatest Generation, and many more from the generations that followed. It is an insidious and invariably fatal cancer whose origin is found as much in the search for profit as in the magic mineral itself. Frank Curre offered his life to his country many years ago, now, so many decades later, those who profited from the sale of asbestos will take it.
Frank has made it his life's mission to "always remember, and to never forget, those brave and magnificent men with whom [he] had the God-given honor to serve." Frank explains, "I tell the story to the children at schools and I tell it in a way they won't read about in history books, not in a sanitized way, but with all the graphic and vivid detail that is seared into my memory. I want them to know how bad it really was, so that maybe they will never have to experience anything like it ever again."
We are all better for the Frank Curre's of the world. Frank demurs, "I ain't no hero, the heroes are them boys that never made it home. I just want everybody to know them, if even for a moment, through my own experiences."
Frank wants you to understand he is a fighter, a believer in causes greater than himself, and a follower of what he knows is a compassionate and loving God. So he wants you to know he intends to tell those who will listen what so many went through on that fateful day in 1941, and in the months and years that followed. And he will do so for as many days as he is allowed to do so, he feels he owes it to his friends who could not be here to tell the story themselves.