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101-year-old WWII veteran in Queens reflects on his life of courage this Veterans Day

Posted at 7:26 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 19:28:30-05

ST. ALBANS, Queens — A World War II centenarian has quite a story to tell.

Rev. James Blakely, 101, said he would remember the bombing Pearl Harbor for a hundred years. He’s nearly done that and hopes the world never forgets, especially on Veteran’s Day.

“War is nothing to brag over,” said Rev. Blakely.

Blakely says memories from WWII still haunt him. Reverend Blakely survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS St. Louis. He was an ammunitions handler.

“I was way down in the belly of the ship, below the water line. Where if one hit closer, I won’t be here to see your face,” said Rev. Blakely.

A man of faith, Rev. Blakely credits divine intervention for protecting him that day. Rev. Blakely survived a tough life — the Jim Crow south, Pearl Harbor and homelessness in his 90s.

Now, he has a home at the St. Albans Community Living Center. His message is hope.

“I hope I can be an example that nobody should go to war, live peaceful,” said Rev. Blakely.

Blakely credits clean living for his longevity. He does not smoke or drink. He also has some advice for the people in power.

“We need more women in higher position. They should run the world and we need no more wars,” said Rev. Blakely.

Reverend Blakely is already planning for his 102nd birthday coming up in January. His one wish, he says, is peace in the world.