A World War II veteran present at Pearl Harbor on the day of Japan’s attack returned to Honolulu to commemorate its 81st anniversary, where he received a hero’s welcome.
“I’m not worthy,” Ira “Ike” Schab, 102, said as officers greeted him with a ceremonial water salute. “Who’s worth all this?”
Marian Wynn and Marian Sousa, two women who worked as engineers and line workers as part of the “Rosie the Riveters” workforce movement, also made the trip and were equally moved by the welcome, insisting “we’re not heroes.”
“We just wanted to do our job and get the guys home,” Sousa told Hawaii News Now.
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Schab was only 21 when Japanese pilots bombed the naval base on Dec. 7, 1941. As a saxophone player assigned to the band aboard the USS Dobbin, he was present at the base to meet with his brother when the attack started.
Kimberlee Heinrichs, Schab’s daughter, last year described the difficulty her father faced on that day as he pulled bodies out of the water. He did not open up much about what he saw until he was much older, she said.
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Today, Schab lives in Oregon, in a town called Aloha just outside Portland.
He tries to return to Hawaii when he can to commemorate the fallen and remember his friends and colleagues who died on a day that will continue to live in infamy. Last year, he almost did not make it due to financial constraints, but his family managed to raise $10,000 through crowdfunding to pay for his trip.
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This year, Schab suffered from a number of health issues, including fear of pneumonia, according to Hawaii News Now.
However, Schab said he “wouldn’t have missed it,” adding that his family “could have gotten me here in a hospital bed.”
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His son, Karl, also retired from the Navy, called the reception for the heroes “overwhelming,” revealing that the display brought tears to his eyes.
Schab, Sousa and Wynn will attend the Pearl Harbor Commemoration on Dec. 7, which will culminate in a Remembrance Parade that evening in Waikiki.