Ira Schab, a 101-year-old survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is headed to Hawaii to join the dwindling number of servicemen who were on active duty that December 7, 1941, as they mark the 80th anniversary of the attack. For Schab, his journey is a gift of love from his family and hundreds of supporters.
“Lacking organizations with bigger pockets, I can’t afford to get my Pop over there,” Kimberlee Heinrichs wrote on her GoFundMe page. “This fundraiser will cover flights, hotel, car, food for Ike and two family caregivers to keep him safe and be honored at the Pearl Harbor Anniversary ceremonies.”
As of this writing, Heinrichs has raised $12,226, surpassing her $10,000 goal.
Her father, Ira “Ike” Schab, was a U.S. Navy musician, assigned to the destroyer USS Dobbin, on the quiet Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, according to Hawaii News Now. He had planned to meet his brother, when Japanese planes began to attack.
“It’s hard what to say the feeling that runs through your mind. You’re scared. You don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Schab told the outlet. “When I realized we were under attack I got busy doing what I was told, passing ammunition and getting that sort of stuff done.”
Schab was getting ready to visit his brother when the Japanese hit Battleship Row. Hawaii News Now reports some of the horrors from that day as seen through Schab’s eyes.
Schab was 21 years old that day. He’s now 101.
Kimberlee Heinrichs said as her father has gotten older he’s opened up more about his Pearl Harbor experience.
“You know it was a significant thing,” she said. “He was pulling bodies out of the water because frankly everybody was pulling bodies out of the water.”
Schab is the last surviving member of Navy Band 13 and lives with his daughter in Aloha, Oregon.
Kimberlee was astonished that so many total strangers reached out to help.
“The idea that complete strangers donated money even beyond what was needed made me cry. People did something kind when that seems in short supply,” she said.
Both said they are grateful for the generosity of others, and the opportunity to have Schab there in person. On Sunday, he’s going to be conducting the PACFLEET band at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Schab has attended the ceremony a few times in his life and said every time he does, it brings him a sense of wonder.
“I like that when I go there are reminders of people and things from a long time ago. People I miss. It brings back memories,” he said.
Thanks to the generosity of strangers, Schab will travel down memory lane one last time before taking the long voyage home.