HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sterling Cale is a Pearl Harbor survivor who volunteers often at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.
Friends, family, visitors and staff of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center threw him a 98th birthday celebration on Saturday, Nov. 30 at the center.
There was cake, candles and a robust Happy Birthday song.
He served as a pharmacist when he was in the Navy.
His actual birthday is on Nov. 29, 1921.
One of his favorite sayings is “Ready, aim, fire!”
When he volunteers at the center, he signs copies of his book called A True American: The Story of a Pearl Harbor Survivor, World War II, Korean and Vietnam War Veteran. He donates the proceeds from the book to the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center.
“Sterling is one of these steady Freddies that comes here and signs, takes pictures with and really shares aloha, and the Pearl Harbor story with them,” said chief historian for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial Daniel Martinez.
He’s a living, breathing, laughing, smiling glimpse into history.
“He’s here at least once or twice a week,” said Martinez. “So it’s just a vivid reminder to me that we have this touchstone of history here that we can go up and talk to him and go, “You know, Sterling — what about this and this.”
Surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor one of his many military accomplishments in a career that spent 40 years dedicating his life to service.
“Not only was he in Pearl Harbor, but he was attached to the Marines and the Guada Canal campaign,” said Martinez. “So his story is, I said to him “There wasn’t a bullet that was intended for you.” He survived all that. And one of the side stories that people don’t know was that he was diving off the boats to retrieve all the people that were struggling or dead.”
Sterling declined to speak on camera on Sunday.
The Illinois native married a local girl, Victoria who passed away earlier this year.
They would’ve been married 77 years in December.
Cale did tell us the secret to his long life is his wife.
“He married a local girl,” Martinez explained. “So he’s part of the Hawaiian community through marriage, and he’s always just cherished it. And to see the leis that came from his relatives a part of that marriage is that he loves Hawaii and in turn, I think Hawaii loves him.”