WWII Navy nurse celebrates 105th birthday, among last links to Pearl Harbor

Alice Darrow has been honored as one of the last living links to Pearl Harbor as a Navy nurse during World War II. Saturday, she was celebrated by family, friends, and community members for her love of life and patriotic commitment to our country, all at the young age of 105.

Lots of food, flowers, cards and cupcakes- and of course, family and friends made for a memorable birthday party for a former navy nurse, who’s also one of the last of the ‘greatest generations in American history.’ 

A special birthday party took place in Danville on Saturday, and Darrow said she wasn’t expecting such a large get-together. 

"No, I certainly wasn’t, but I’m happy to see everyone! It’s a thrill," said Darrow.

She was born in 1919 in Paso Robles. After high school, Beck enrolled in nursing school and then served as a Navy nurse, working at Peralta Hospital in Oakland. 

After Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, injured soldiers returned home. One Naval officer was blown off his boat. Japanese gunmen kept firing as Darrow climbed aboard his rescue boat. 

Darrow said, "When the boat came by to pick him up, he was trying to pull himself up on the boat. They shot him. He got shot in the back."

It wasn’t until four months later while he was being treated for appendicitis, doctors did an x-ray.

"The doctors were shocked, there was this bullet in his heart," she said.

That was when Alice Beck was assigned to him as his nurse.  

"He asked me, ‘Ms. Becky if I survive this, would you take liberty with me?'  Which was a shock. So, I said, ‘sure, why not?’ They didn’t think he was going to make it anyways," said Darrow.

The couple were married for almost fifty years when Mr. Darrow died in 1991. Together they raised four children in Lake County, where both parents were very active in military memorial services. 

Darrow is one of the last living links to Pearl Harbor. 

Toni Lewis of Lafayette attended the birthday party and said of Alice Darrow, "We have gone on vacations with Alice, and she's always very good, sometimes having a beer or a glass of wine. She is smart as a tack, and loves to play card games."

Darrow remains sharp, according to her daughter Becky. 

"She stays on top of everything! I consider her my best friend," Becky said.

At her birthday party, Danville Mayor Karen Steffer presented Darrow with a commendation. 

She said, "We don’t do this for everyone, because they don’t usually last til 105." 

Attendees at the party included friends, family, grandchildren, neighbors and a former mayor of Danville, who invited her to the Fourth of July parade this year. 

As to what she attributes to her long life, Alice Darrow said, "Always have something to look forward to. It gets your body and mind ready for what’s next." 

As for her, she’s looking forward to an ‘around the world’ cruise later this year with her daughter. 

Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU Fox 2 News. She can be reached at Alice.Wertz@Fox.com