PATERSON, N.J. -- A water cannon salute was part of a solemn ceremony held Thursday at Newark Airport for Master Chief Petty Officer Raymond Haerry, a Paterson native who was one of last surviving members of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
American Airlines Flight #2321 left the airport in the morning carrying Haerry's remains following a tribute to his life and service from staff from the Port Authority -- among them, a police bagpiper and honor guard and PAPD Chaplain Rabbi Mendy Carlebach -- as well as members of the Transportation Security Administration and American Airlines.
Haerry, who was 94 when he died in Rhode Island late last September, was blown from the aft deck of the USS Arizona into the harbor during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack, which cut the ship in two.
His son told the Washington Post that his father swam through an oil-slicked inferno to nearby Ford Island, found a gun and shot at the invading warplanes before helping recover some of the 1,177 victims.
The historic event launched the United States into World War II.
Born on Nov. 28, 1921, Haerry grew up in Paterson and attended MIT after graduating high school.
He spent 25 years in the Navy, serving in the second World War and Korean War, and lived with his wife of 70 years, Evelyn at a nursing home in West Warwick, R.I., according to the Post.
Thursday's flight headed to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after the aircraft rescue and firefighting unit at Newark honored the American hero with the water canon salute.
His remains were to be interred with the Arizona.