Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Matter Of Chance

I can't let 7 December pass without a Pearl Harbor story. Neither can the LATimes.

They were barely men at the time, unaware of each other but baptized by the same fire.

Paul Perrault was 21, a naval officer aboard the light cruiser Phoenix, anchored in Pearl Harbor's East Loch. He had just risen from his bunk when cannon-like blasts tore through the morning calm. Scrambling to his post in the gunnery, he saw a sky speckled with Japanese planes.

Across the harbor on Ford Island was Seaman 2nd Class Anthony "George" Mark, 18, who narrowly escaped as a plane strafed his area and bombs plunged into nearby hangars.

Twenty years later, two fathers met on a Monrovia cul-de-sac. One lived in a tan-colored home with his wife and two children. The other was moving his family of five into the house next door. After a month of small talk, the men learned of their shared past.

Chance had saved their lives. Chance made them neighbors.

The two belong to a dwindling fraternity. An estimated 4,000 Pearl Harbor survivors are still alive.

"It was just luck — where you happened to be and how the Japanese planned to bomb," Perrault said. "People say, 'God was with you,' but I think, 'How about the 3,000 that died?' How come God wasn't with them?"

There is little to be proud of when it comes to surviving a war, Mark said. "We got out and we're out, period."

Good story. Please read the rest.

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