Jack Carson, one of the Kansas City area’s last Pearl Harbor survivors, died Monday.
He was 92.
“He was a wonderful person and the patriarch of our family,” said Susan Carson Farmer, one of his five children. “There is a big hole in our hearts today.”
Early on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Carson was a member of a U.S. Army Air Corps tow-target detachment at Hickam air base who was awakened in his barracks by a droning noise. He went to the balcony, where he saw a Japanese plane pass over his head.
In 2006, Carson traveled to Hawaii to attend Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremonies. His growing interest in the activities of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association made him more comfortable in telling his air corps experiences, Farmer said.
“This is a man who told very little to his children about what he did,” said Farmer, a Florida history teacher. “But all of a sudden he got involved with the survivors organization and he finally started telling his stories.”
For around the last 10 years Carson was a fixture at the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony and program held at the Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission.
He especially appreciated the interest of the middle school and high school students who attended the program, said Susan Pepperdine, a Fairway public relations consultant who helped organize the annual remembrance.
“Jack really knew his history,” Pepperdine said.
On Dec. 7, 2013, Carson joined two other area Pearl Harbor survivors in being saluted by a standing-room-only crowd at Sporting Park before a Sporting KC match.
Carson was born June 4, 1923, in Keokuk, Iowa. He retired from the U.S. Air Force after 30 years and serving at bases in Bermuda, Hawaii, Texas and Missouri. He married Eileen Soenksen in 1949; she survives him.
Carson died of heart failure Monday at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Farmer said.
His death leaves three Kansas City area Pearl Harbor survivors, said Pepperdine. An informal gathering next month marking the Pearl Harbor anniversary is scheduled at the Powell Center at 6200 Martway, she said.