On December 7, 1941, Mickey Ganitch was preparing for a football game against the USS Arizona team. His team, from the USS Pennsylvania, was geared up and ready to play. He was wearing his pads and rearing to go when the Japanese began their surprise attack.
Born November 18, 1919, in Mogadore, Ohio, Mickey was no stranger to hard work. Growing up on a farm, he was always up early and in bed late. The depression had put a stop to jobs and having trouble finding work, Mickey moved to California and eventually joined the U.S. Navy. The Navy gave him the job of quartermaster and the even more important task of taking the helm of the ship, steering the massive vessel while underway. However, his battle station was in the crow’s nest. When the attack hit, Mickey made his way up to that vantage point, still wearing his pads, watching as the battle unfolded.
From the crow’s nest, he had a view of the entire harbor. He watched as ship’s were hit, buildings burned and men leapt into the ocean, avoiding death but forced to survive in perilous waters as leaking oil had set the sea aflame. From his position, he reported what he saw to the bridge, the fight ensuing around him in all directions. When the second wave attacked, he watched as a bomb narrowly missed his position and instead hit the Pennsylvania, crashing through two decks before exploding. Twenty-three men would be lost to that bomb and many more were injured.
Mickey would go on to serve in the Pacific War. While fighting in the Philippines, he once again narrowly avoided injury when Japanese torpedoes missed his ship. Later, he would take part in the testing of atomic bombs, before eventually leaving the service and settling in northern California. He now supports several veteran organizations and educates Americans on Pearl Harbor.