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Major historical events have a powerful way of impacting our lives.  For example, people can remember where they were when they found out that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  And I can remember right where I was when I learned of the September 11th attacks, down to the exact conversation I had with my college roommate.

Today is the 70th anniversary of a major international historical event, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  My Pop Pop, my dad’s father, was there on that fateful day, serving as an 18-year old second class seaman in the U.S. Navy on the USS Dobbin.  He is now one of only a few survivors living in Pennsylvania.

my Pop Pop

A U.S. Navy photo from 1941 shows the USS Dobbin, a destroyer tender launched in 1914 that was attacked during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.

When my brother and I started to learn about Pearl Harbor in school, we would ask him questions and he’d tell us about his Navy days, what it was like to work in “the belly of the boat” and to live on a ship.  I don’t think it was until we reached middle school or high school that he told us some of the darker stories that he experienced – witnessing bombs dropping, losing his shipmates, sustaining war injuries himself.

Now, as an adult, living in our own time of war and seeing my friends go off to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can truly appreciate and get a sense of what it is that my grandfather went through.

My Pop is a very humble man, and will give a hand-shake and nod his head to passersby who thank him for his service when they see his Navy baseball cap that reads “I Served With Pride”, which he’s wearing for his newspaper article, below.  If you call him a hero, he may brush it off and say he was just doing his job.  But he is a hero, and he survived something that many others did not.

I’m sitting here crying as I type this post, just thinking about him; not really sure why or what is hitting me so hard.   I just know that I love him more than words can say, and am so proud of what he’s done throughout his life.

Pop in the paper.

Today, Pop was featured in a great article in my hometown paper, and I’d be honored if you checked it out: From Boy to Man in One Infernal Day: Pearl Harbor survivor looks back on attack 70 years ago