Tulsa’s last known living Pearl Harbor survivor was laid to rest Thursday, the same week of the 79th anniversary of the attack.
A flag that usually only waves on Memorial Day at Floral Haven Cemetery flew at half-staff today in honor of the life and legacy of Arles Cole.
It was a flag Cole gave to the cemetery, after it was given to him as a donation in 2001 for the Tulsa chapter of a Pearl Harbor survivors club of which Cole was a member.
The flag has 48 stars, like the American flag did back in 1941, and once flew over the USS Arizona memorial in Hawaii.
Arles was just 17 and on the USS West Virginia when he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor after a dud bomb created a hole for his escape. He went on to continue serving in the Navy until 1945 and lived a full life.
"We don't have him anymore. But we do have his memories,” his friend, Keith Myers, said.
The WWII veteran was honored at his funeral by the Patriot Guard Riders along with family and friends driving by, to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.
Cole was part of the “Last Man's Club" for Tulsa-area Pearl Harbor survivors.
Myers would go to the monthly meetings as a friend of survivors, and said even after knowing Arles for about 20 years he still referred to him as "Mr. Cole."
"Mr. Cole would say the prayer for us and I think that's what I'm gonna miss the most. Because it wasn't a canned prayer. It was one from his heart,” Myers said.
The 96-year-old shared his heart and history with so many others over the years, working to educate students and anyone who would listen.
Cole threw the first pitch at several Tulsa Drillers games. When he wasn't in the spotlight, his family said he loved to spend his time gardening and was especially known for his tomato plants.
Mr. Cole also wrote a book, called "Showing Our Colors at Pearl Harbor: A Firsthand Account Through the Eyes of a 17-Year-Old Survivor.”
Myers said the Last Man’s Club will continue to meet in Tulsa to support widows and children of Pearl Harbor survivors.