Grand Forks lost a Pearl Harbor survivor over the weekend.
Ninety-nine-year-old Agnes Shurr, a U.S. Navy nurse who treated the injured during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, died Saturday at Valley Memorial Home Eldercare in Grand Forks.
Shurr was born Oct. 1, 1915, the second of five children, and raised on a farm near Glenburn in north-central North Dakota.
She attended St. Joseph's School of Nursing in Minot and, in 1938, joined the Navy.
On Dec. 7, 1941, she was one of 13 nurses aboard the USS Solace, one of two hospital ships in the Hawaiian harbor that morning. The surprise Japanese attack killed more than 2,300 Americans, severely damaged the U.S. Pacific Fleet and pulled the country into World War II.
Ever since, Americans have paused on the anniversary to remember what President Franklin Roosevelt called "a date which will live in infamy," and "Remember Pearl Harbor" became the watchword for national vigilance.
While it is not known just how many Pearl Harbor survivors are still alive, a year ago the number was estimated at between 2,000 and 2,500, according to information from the USS Arizona Memorial website.
The Solace spent the last three years of the war in the South Pacific, with the nurses shuttling between New Zealand, Australia and battle zones, caring for servicemen wounded in the island campaigns.
The ship was with the fleet in the Gilberts, the Marshals, the Marianas, the Solomons -- at Tarawa, Eniwetok, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima -- and earned seven battle stars. It ended the war with happier duty, ferrying soldiers, sailors and Marines home to the mainland from Pearl Harbor.
During the Korean War, she rode aboard transport planes that brought wounded soldiers from hospitals in Japan to Hawaii.
By the time Shurr's 20-year military career ended in 1958, she had earned the rank of commander.
She moved to Grand Forks that year, working as an anesthesiologist at the former St. Michael's Hospital. After a two-year stint with the World Health Organization to train nurses in Afghanistan, she returned to Grand Forks, where she taught nursing at UND from 1967 to 1981.
In a 2011 interview with the Herald to mark her 96th birthday, she recalled hearing the news early that fateful Sunday morning.
"'Man your duty stations,' the announcer blared. "'This is no drill. All hands. This is no drill.'"
She reported to her station in the medical ward below decks, and soon casualties arrived - young men with fractured arms and legs, broken backs "and lots of shrapnel wounds," she said. Many of the patients were covered in oil and suffering from burns.
The ship could hold about 400 patients, Shurr said, and there were busy days and nights for the nurses in the weeks following the attack. Some patients were evacuated by air or sea, "as many as were able to make that trip back to the States," she said.
In that 2011 interview, Shurr said he had learned not to dwell on the "date which shall live in infamy," or the hatred the attack instilled in people who suffered through it and its bloody aftermath.
"Some things," she said, "it's just as important to forget as to remember."