Monday, March 14, 2011

Last of Middleboro's Pearl Harbor survivors dies

With our condolences and sympathy to the Fortin Family...He has our thanks for his dedication and service to our country.

Last of Middleboro's Pearl Harbor survivors dies

HERVE FORTIN: was a crew member on the USS Detroit when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 - March 10, 2011

— Senior Chief Boatswain Mate (retired) Herve Fortin, the last of the six Middleboro survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 died in California on Thursday, Feb. 17. He was a seaman first class crew member of the USS Detroit (CL8) at the time of Japanese attack.

The ship was moored at Ford Island in the center of Pearl Habor. Mr. Fortin went topside at 7:30 a.m. on that day to relieve a fellow crew member on the motorboat. The motorboat was still out on a mission at the time. Herve turned around and reported to the Petty Officer in charge of the gun tub area of the ship right at the same time as two low flying Japanese planes came in and dropped their bombs. These bombs and those of the next two planes missed the USS Detroit but hit their intended targets of the USS Raleigh and USS Utah. Herve went to his battle station in the sky control amidship over the galley. Due to the intensity of the battle, the sky control position was curtailed. He spent the rest of the battle assigned to three-inch anti-aircraft gun number 5.

Mr. Fortin went on to have a long and distinguished career in the Navy and retired in November of 1970. His time in service spanned three wars: World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Back in 2004, Mr. Fortin made a sizable donation to the Middleborough Veterans' Memorial Park project to have a section of the park dedicated to the Middleboro Pearl Harbor survivors. A Pearl Harbor survivors memorial brick in the walkway into the park denotes this section of the park and below that are individual bricks for each of the six men. His fellow local survivors were Army TEC SGT Aldo Tonari, Army SGT Emerson Ray, Army CPL Manuel Costa, Army PFC William Vassar, and Army veteran Dominic Falconieri.

At the time of the dedication of the Middleborough Veterans' Memorial Park on Memorial Day 2005 only Mr. Fortin and Mr. Tonari were still alive. They both attended the park dedication ceremony and also the reception held later in that day at the Zachariah Eddy House Bed and Breakfast for Middleboro Pearl Harbor survivors and their family members.

Proclamations of recognition and appreciation were given to Herve Fortin and Aldo Tornari by the Midleboro Board of Selectmen at the 2005 event, along with the proclamations given to the family members of their fellow survivors that had already passed on.

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