SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Those who knew Stu Hedley say it was only fitting to have his celebration of life on board the USS Midway along San Diego's waterfront.
It's a ship he spent a lot of time on through his involvement with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which is where he met Bennie Valeu, who was an honorary member.
"Stu got me to do the two bell ceremony and I’ve been doing that for five years. As the members fade away, it just brings back a lot of memories," Valeu says.
Hedley passed away this month at the age of 99. He would have turned 100 years old on Oct. 31.
Many service members past and present joined Hedley's family and friends on Wednesday to honor the man who spent decades educating people about what happened at Pearl Harbor.
He was assigned on the USS West Virginia when his ship was attacked. According to the Us for Warriors Foundation, Hedley was the sole survivor of the attack on the USS West Virginia and was in a heavy gun turret with eight others when a bomb penetrated the turret.
Hedley has spoken to thousands about his experiences during the Pearl Harbor attack, but he stopped due to the pandemic. He made it his mission to make sure people didn’t forget what happened that day. By his count, he spoke to more than 200,000 people over the years — something he was quite proud of.
And as Hedley got his military send-off, friends say he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, as they remembered the life of a true American hero.
That legacy will continue. A scholarship fund has been started in Hedley's name for enlisted service members.