Joseph L. Lockard, 90, the city native who tried to warn of a large formation heading toward Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, passed away in Harrisburg on Nov. 2.
Lockard was one of two U.S. Army privates operating a radar signal base on Opana Point on the island of Oahu that day almost 71 years ago.
Shortly after 7 a.m., a huge radar echo appeared on the equipment closing in on the Pearl Harbor naval base.
Lockard's call to nearby Fort Shafter warning of possible approaching enemy aircraft was dismissed by a higher-ranking officer, saying the formation was probably just American B-17s or naval patrol aircraft.
The planes turned out to be the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,400 people and led the United States into World War II.
"There was this thing on the screen. It was the largest blip I'd ever seen!" Lockard said during a 1988 interview with writer Blaine Taylor for an article published in "WWII Collector's Edition of the Pearl Harbor Magazine's Official 50th Anniversary Magazine."
"At first, we thought something was wrong with the equipment, so we ran it through a series of tests. I checked out the receiver and transmitter to see if there was anything mechanically wrong. There was nothing electronically wrong that we could see, so we started plotting the blip. We did that for a while, then decided we'd call to see if there was anybody down there on the phone."
Jess Hackenberg, of Montoursville, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army Aviation veteran and volunteer with the Lycoming County Veterans Council, said he met Lockard a few times when he spoke locally to groups.
"He was, I guess you could say, our most famous guy," Hackenberg said. "I think Joe Lockard is probably going to be remembered as the guy who rang the fire bell and nobody showed up. I think he deserves a place in history, and he got it."
Lockard grew up in the Newberry area of the city in the 900 block of Race Street. He retired in 1986 from AMP in Harrisburg, a company that produced electrical connectors. He was awarded about 40 patents for his work.