A rare shirt survives man who survived Pearl Harbor

A Pearl Harbor survivor and war hero will be honored this week, but the reason is a bit peculiar.

Glenn Harvey Lane, who was a command master chief in the U.S. Navy, will have one of his aloha shirts dedicated at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Aloha Shirt Museum in the Wailea Gateway Center.

Lane died in December 2011 at the age of 93, and was one of the last survivors of the USS Arizona. His ashes were returned to the sunken ship in September in a ceremony that only 36 of his former comrades have received.

On Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an explosion blew Lane off the ship’s burning deck.

In a 1999 home video that was made to preserve his story, he recounted that fateful day.

“Those turrets both blew their magazines and that ship disintegrated,” said Lane, who was serving as an aviation radio man.

“It shuddered, it jumped out of the water . . . and then dropped back into the water and then a great big ball of flame came roaring back.”

He said that he quickly turned away with his head in his hands and was thrown off the ship’s deck “like a big hot broom rapped you across the back.”

He awoke underwater and struggled to swim to the surface. There was 6 inches of oil on the surface, he said, and when he looked back at the ship, he could not see anyone alive.

Lane swam to the USS Nevada, but that ship also was sunk by Japanese dive bombers.

“I’m probably the only guy in the world that had two battleships shot out from under him in less than two hours,” he said.

Trish Anderson Lane, who lives in LaConner, Wash., was at the dedication ceremony on Oahu in September for her father, and will attend Wednesday’s event at the museum.

After visiting Maui in 2008 and driving by the shirt museum with her family, she contacted the owners, Nick and Diane Oosterveen, and explained her father’s story.

“I thought, ‘Boy it would be pretty cool if they could showcase my dad’s shirt,’ ” she said.

She said that after the war, her father was stationed at Pearl Harbor for about five years, starting in 1949, and that she was born in the islands in 1953.

However, she wasn’t quite sure when he had bought the aloha shirt, and she showed it to Diane Oosterveen, who has collected aloha shirts for 35 years.

“It’s beautiful,” Oosterveen said of the yellow shirt featuring Asian dragons and other designs. “I had seen it in books . . . but I had never seen that pattern before in person.”

She was able to trace the shirt back to 1949, due to its plastic buttons. She said that aloha shirts made in Hawaii in subsequent years had buttons made out of coconuts.

The museum, which has about 200 aloha shirts, will display the shirt along with Glenn Lane’s story at the checkout counter.

“The story about Glenn is very, very moving,” said Nick Ooosterveen. “We want to celebrate a great soldier and the aloha shirt history.”

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.