Pearl Har­bor sur­vivor Jim Doyle dies at 93

“He loved life, andwe had a good life to­gether”

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Monte Wha­ley

Jim Doyle, one of the last re­main­ing sur­vivors of the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, died Tues­day at St. An­thony Hos­pi­tal in Lakewood. He was 93.

Doyle cap­tured some of the most en­dur­ing im­ages of the at­tack on film with his camera. He later came un­der fire again while fly­ing as an aviation pho­tog­ra­pher’s mate 1st Class dur­ing the fight in the Pa­cific.

For his brav­ery, he­was awarded two Pur­ple Hearts and a Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross.

Yet he didn’t dis­cuss the war with his three sons and daugh­ter, said Doyle’s wife, Sue.

“He never talked to his kids about it. Never,” Sue Doyle said. “It’s just some­thing he kept to him­self.”

He was proud of his fish­ing prow­ess and his paint­ings. Doyle worked as an artist for the U. S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey be­fore he re­tired and kept an art stu­dio at the Doyles’ Lakewood home.

He also im­mersed him­self in read­ing and had fin­ished three books just be­fore he died, Sue Doyle said.

“He was a vo­ra­cious reader. The li­brary was just won­der­ful, and they sent him books through the mail,” she said.

Be­sides his fam­ily, Doyle’s con­stant com­pan­ion over the last few years was an over­weight, tail­less cat dubbed Phat Cat.

“He would sit in his chair ev­ery morn­ing and eat his hot oat­meal, and he had to have his milk so he could feed his ridicu­lous cat,” Sue Doyle said. “He and the cat were in­sep­a­ra­ble. The cat would fol­low him around like a guard dog.”

Doyle learned to fly a crop duster while on the Meeker ranch where he grew up. He en­listed in the Navy when was 16, be­cause his fam­ily could not af­ford to send him to col­lege.

Doyle was quar­tered in a hangar on the west side of Pearl Har­bor when he heard ex­plo­sions on the Sun­day­morn­ing of Dec. 7, 1941.

He went out­side and saw a sky filled with air­craft, many fly­ing nearly at street level. He saw bat­tle­ships go up in flames and heard screams from the dy­ing and wounded.

The smells from the charred bod­ies of dead sailors, soldiers and oth­ers float­ing in the wa­ter were among his worst memories.

“Oil and slime were all over their bod­ies,” Doyle told The Den­ver Post in 2015. “It was some­thing Iwill never get out of my mind.”

Dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Co­ral Sea, Doyle was as­signed to the air­craft car­rier USS Lex­ing­ton. He flew back and landed on the Lex­ing­ton dur­ing the fight but as it sank, Doyle had to jump ship.

Later, while fer­ry­ing planes to Guadal­canal, en­emy planes shot him down. He didn’t re­mem­ber much of that ex­pe­ri­ence, only that Marines braved en­emy fire to res­cue him. He woke up in a hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane, Aus­tralia.

Doyle was given a med­i­cal dis­charge in 1943, “and I was sent home with a sil­ver plate in my head,” Doyle told The Post.

Back home in Colorado, Doyle fished the lakes in the sum­mer and skied dur­ing the win­ter. While work­ing as a ski in­struc­tor, he met Sue. They­were mar­ried Aug. 15, 1955.

“Oh, he was hand­some,” she said. “And he was charm­ing.”

“I know he wanted to live more if he could,” she added. “He loved life, and we had a good life to­gether.”

Memo­rial ser­vices are pend­ing.

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