World War II veterans visit 4th, 5th graders at Hale Kula

| December 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

 

World War II veteran Robert Blum, age 95, tells 4th graders at Hale Kula Elementary school, Schofield Barracks, about his life during the war, as Nelson Mitchell, the oldest living African-American WWII survivor,  looks on. The men were part of a group of veterans on the island for the 74th anniversary commemoration of Pearl Harbor, a program of the Greatest Generations Foundation, Dec. 4. (Story and photos by Doris Pangelinan)

World War II veteran Robert Blum, age 95, tells 4th graders at Hale Kula Elementary school, Schofield Barracks, about his life during the war, as Nelson Mitchell, the oldest living African-American WWII survivor, looks on. The men were part of a group of veterans on the island for the 74th anniversary commemoration of Pearl Harbor, a program of the Greatest Generations Foundation, Dec. 4. (Story and photos by Doris Pangelinan)

Story and photos by
Doris Pangelinan
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Fourteen World War II veterans visited classrooms at Hale Kula Elementary School, here, Dec. 4, as part of the Pearl Harbor 74th Anniversary Commemoration “Remember Pearl Harbor,” a program organized and sponsored by the Greatest Generations Foundation.

The 14 veterans arrived at the school after an official visit of the hangars on Wheeler Army Airfield followed by lunch at Schofield’s 2nd Brigade dining facility.

Upon arrival, a group of youngsters greeted the men with hugs after they carefully stepped off their bus, presenting each with a traditional Kukui nut lei and a bottle of water.

A Hale Kula Elementary School student asks visiting World War II Marine veteran, Dr. Earl Bruce Heilman, age 90, for his auto- graph. (Photo by DORIS PANGELINAN)

A Hale Kula Elementary School student asks visiting World War
II Marine veteran, Dr. Earl Bruce Heilman, age 90, for his auto-
graph. (Photo by DORIS PANGELINAN)

The veterans were escorted into seven classrooms by the 4th and 5th graders who hosted them and teamed up in twos in front of the classes for the discussions.

The children were well prepared for the visit, raising their hands and asking a number of questions to the veterans, who spent one hour not only providing answers, but also telling stories of their lives and offering life advice.

Nelson Mitchell, a 93-year-old former Navy cook who was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, told the class about the hardships he and his family faced when he was a youngster.

“I grew up on a farm. There were eight of us, and three of my siblings died of tuberculosis,” said Mitchell. “You are very kind and very patient children. Wherever you go, you’ll have better opportunities than we did back then. I love all of you and want you to be successful in your lives.”

Robert Blum, a 95-year-old veteran who was stationed at Hickam Field during the attack, told the students how he had been in pilot training when a loud blast from a Japanese bomb shattered his eardrums and his dream of becoming a pilot.

“I was awarded a Purple Heart for that,” he explained. “But getting hit is not lucky.”

He later regained his hearing and became an Air Force sergeant.

When asked what his responsibilities were in World War II, Arthur Staymates, a 90-year-old Army veteran who stormed Omaha Beach in D-Day’s first wave on June 6, 1944, told the group, “I was a platoon leader with 45 men under my command. We unfortunately lost half of the platoon on D-Day.”

Friday, December 11, 2015 A group of 4th and 5th graders at Hale Kula Elementary School, Schofield Barracks, happily await the arrival of visiting World War II veterans, Dec. 4, to adorn them with lei, hugs and joy. (Friday, December 11, 2015 A group of 4th and 5th graders at Hale Kula Elementary School, Schofield Barracks, happily await the arrival of visiting World War II veterans, Dec. 4, to adorn them with lei, hugs and joy. (Photo by DORIS PANGELINAN)

A group of 4th and 5th graders at Hale Kula Elementary School, Schofield Barracks, happily await the arrival of visiting World War II veterans, Dec. 4, to adorn them with lei, hugs and joy. (Photo by DORIS PANGELINAN)

When asked if he had ever been shot, he replied, “Yes, twice,” then added, “I had been in the war for 11 months.”

As the question and answer session winded down, a number of children asked the veterans for autographs, which they were happy to oblige.

Greatest Generation Foundation

The Greatest Generation Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to honoring war veterans and preserving their stories through youth education. Its mission is to promote recognition and respect for war veterans while increasing historical education for today’s youth.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Community, Education, Veterans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *