WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - William "Bill" Hendley is 95 years old, but can remember the day he joined the Navy like it was yesterday. He was just 17 years old.
"It was the day after my 17th birthday," said Hendley. "Back then you only had 11 grades, so I had to find something to do."
He said he had no idea what awaited him during 22-year his naval career. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, and during his fourth year, Pearl Harbor was attacked.
"I was taking a shower, and lucky that I was," Hendley said.
He said that's when five to six torpedoes hit the port side of the ship, and his chief petty officer pushed him and eight other men out of the shower, knowing he wouldn't be able to get out.
"He had a big belly," Hendley said. "One guy said the last thing he saw was him saying his prayers because he knew he wouldn't get out."
Hendley and the other men jumped into the water and swam away from the sinking ship, and were picked up by boats that led them to safety.
Today, he lives in Wilmington and is believed to be the only remaining Pearl Harbor survivor from the U.S.S. Oklahoma in North Carolina.
Hendley is possibly just one of two remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in the country.
"We lost four hundred and some men that day," Hendley said. "It was a sad day, I'll tell you."