A Pearl Harbor survivor, former Navy band French horn player and the Guinness World Record holder for oldest conductor died earlier this week after an extensive career serving his country and volunteering in his community.
Chief Warrant Officer Francis “Frank” Emond passed away on Tuesday at 104 years old.
“As I was growing up, he never talked about Pearl Harbor or any of those things,” Emond’s son Roy told WKRG News. “He just never talked about it but then later in life, he found that other people wanted to hear that story.”
The news of the Navy musician’s passing came just before a celebration for the oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor’s upcoming 105th birthday, the Associated Press reported.
Last November, Emond broke his own world record during an event in Washington.
In 1938, at 22 years old, the Rhode Island native enlisted in the Navy as a musician, according to a release from Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Pensacola.
Emond was assigned to the Pennsylvania battleship in Hawaii in the summer of 1941, the release said. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, the musician saw the first bomb drop and explode at a hangar on Ford Island while he was playing the morning colors, he previously recalled to the American Veterans Center.
“If I close my eyes, I can still see it,” he said.
After the war, Emond continued in his naval career, eventually becoming a band conductor. Following his retirement in 1968, he spent a decade working as a civilian employee at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, according to the Pensacola News Journal. He also found time to volunteer at a nearby Navy hospital and conduct with a local performance group.
“Although Frank was quiet and humble, he was a tremendously strong man who loved music,” former Pensacola Civic Band director Don Snowden said in a Facebook post. “Rest in [p]eace, sir.”
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media