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Community Honors Pearl Harbor Survivor and Wife, Who Died Three Days Apart

Richard and Lenore Oyler met in the Navy and settled in San Clemente where they owned the Decor Center. He was well-known for his storied survival of Pear Harbor attack. She died three days after him.

A memorial service was held Saturday in San Clemente for a Pearl Harbor survivor and his wife of 67 years, who died three days after him.

Richard Oyler died Sept. 13 of congestive heart failure at age 88. He often talked about how fortunate he was to have survived the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, during which his ship took hits that left dozens dead or wounded.

Oyler, met his wife, Lenore, while both were in the Navy. She died of complications of Alzheimer's disease on Sept. 16, also at age 88, The Orange
County Register reported.

After moving to San Clemente in 1977, they bought the Decor Center, a flooring and drapery business they ran.

Both will be remembered today at a 10 a.m. memorial service today in San Clemente at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 470 Camino San Clemente. The couple will be buried at Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Drive, San Diego.

In interviews with the Register over the years, Oyler recalled how he was finishing breakfast in the mess hall of the USS Curtiss that Sunday morning when he heard explosions. Through a cargo hatch, he could see a torpedo plane diving toward the battleship USS Utah.

``We saw it let go of its torpedo," Oyler said, "and the torpedo hit the Utah. We knew we were under attack. The Utah sank in 20 minutes."

Oyler, 18 at the time, and other crew members sprang into action as the Curtiss, a seaplane tender, did all it could to fight back. Oyler said the Curtiss fired on a submarine when its periscope appeared, and the ship managed to shoot down several enemy aircraft.

Oyler's friend Nick Ganas died that day.

"I have often thought since, had my battle station not changed just weeks before, I would be there with Nick," Oyler said in a 1991 memoir commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack.

In his battle station that day, he was the captain's talker, relaying orders from the captain while stationed on the bridge.

The Curtiss was repaired and Oyler served on the ship through the war. Oyler enlisted when he was 17. Lenore enlisted as a WAVE in August 1944, and the two married July 21, 1945, settling in Lone Pine, Calif., after the war. The Oylers were avid genealogists and served missions for the church in Palau, Micronesia, and Boston.

They are survived by three daughters, three sons, 23 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Family Assistance Ministries and the Alzheimer's Association.

- City News Service

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