Pearl Harbor Day Through the Eyes of a 106-Year-Old Veteran
LIBERTY, Mo. – He may have lost some of his vision and most of his hearing, but Homer Patchin’s voice is as strong as ever.
At 106, Homer has seen more than most of us ever will. But perhaps the most memorable started 70 years ago Wednesday.
That’s when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack left 2,400 people dead and another 1,100 injured. Additionally, around 55 Japanese Kamikaze died.
While his daughter Donna Schreiber, who was six at the time, can’t remember the details of the attack,the day the country drafted her father is one she can never forget.
“I do remember the day [soldiers] came to the door and gave mother a letter,” said Donna, 76. “I knew what was going on then. I remember I crawled under the bed because I knew it was going to be a sad thing for mother.”
That was in January of 1942. He was among the first to arrive in the Pacific to fight the Japanese. Then in 1945 to Donna’s delight, he came home from country’s second deadliest war. More than 400,000 Americans died. Historians estimate between 60 million and 80 million people died worldwide.
“He just gets tearful when he thinks about some of the things he witnessed while he was on ship,” said Donna.
Homer will turn 107 in August which makes him one of the oldest, if not the oldest, living WWII veterans in the nation. When you factor in that on average, 850 of them die every single day, his tale becomes that much more meaningful.
“The WWII veterans are people that are becoming few and far between,” said Becky Shephard, the VITAS Hospice nurse who helped organize Homer’s celebration. “So these folks that still have these stories are something to be relished.”
And remembered, so that Homer’s legacy, and that of the 16 million American who served during WWII, is never forgotten.