Pearl Harbor survivor living on Western Slope turns 101
RIFLE — While he doesn’t spend much time out of the new recliner chair in his room at the Rifle Veterans Nursing Home these days, Bernie Weber, one of Garfield County’s oldest residents, reflects on his full life with pride.
The Colorado native, who has spent the past three years at the VA Home in Rifle, turns 101 on Thursday.
“I’m just lucky I guess,” he said when asked what his big secret was. “Now I like to just sit and think back on old times … when gas was 9 cents a gallon and things like that.”
Weber plans to spend his birthday celebrating with friends and family in Rifle.
Bernie and his wife Maxine moved around quite a bit when their daughter Bev was young, including spending time in Craig before moving to Moab for 40 years.
He moved to be closer to his daughter in Gypsum before moving into the Veterans Community Living Center in Rifle three years ago.
Though it may not have always been an easy journey to get to 101, he said he fondly looks back on a life that included 67 years of marriage and a seven-year stint in the Navy during World War II.
Weber survived two capsized ships during the war. The first occurred on that very Day of Infamy, Dec. 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
At the time, Weber was a member of the USS Oklahoma. The battleship was hit by multiple torpedoes and capsized that day.
A total of 429 members of the crew died, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society, and a memorial now sits on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to commemorate the loss. Weber was listed as MIA for 10 days after the attack before word reached his family that he was okay.
Nearly a year later, Weber was on the USS Northampton when it sank in the Battle of Tassafaronga on Nov. 30, 1942.
Weber said he still vividly remembers that ship sinking in the Guadalcanal.
After his tour in the Navy, Weber returned home to Fort Lupton where he farmed with his father for a number of years.
Moffat County commissioners are working with regional and local public health officials to update outdated emergency preparedness plans.