by: Beth Hillyer
(KHNL) - Fewer and Fewer aging Pearl Harbor Survivors attend each year's commemoration on December 7th. The 65th anniversary was no exception. And even though he flew in for the events one such survivor never made it to the ceremony.
KHNL News-8's Beth Hillyer has more on a Colorado survivor now fighting for his life at an Oahu hospital.
Walter Mycka survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and this spry 87 year-old gives new meaning to the word survivor. Mycka ended up in the emergency room on the morning of December 7th and missed the ceremony. But thanks to a caring nurse, he stills feel like he's part of the commemoration.
On the morning of the memorial the announcer says "as a substitute Bob Jenson for Walter Mycka who couldn't be here today."
87 year old Walter Mycka was selected to lay the wreath representing his ship, the U.S.S. Maryland. His sister Rose Reilly explains, "He was going to represent the U.S.S Maryland in the ceremony and was to place a wreath in the memory of all the sailors lost and he was really looking forward to it."
But he never made it. Reilly says, "He just seemed to get weaker and weaker and on December 7th he was in a diabetic coma and I couldn't wake him up and I called 9-1-1 we ended up here."
Reilly confirms he was rushed to Straub Hospital. "It was a shame because December 7th was the culmination of his trip and the reason he came and he was disappointed about that."
At Straub he befriended the nursing staff. Nurse Debbie Lau recalls meeting Mycka, "I went into room because I just wanted to shake his hand and I said Hi I'm Debbie. I'm a nurse here on the floor I hear you are a Pearl Harbor survivor and I just wanted to shake your hand. And he started talking to me and mentioned he missed the ceremony."
Debbie called our newsroom for a copy, "Just the fact he is 87 years-old, came all the way to Hawaii to be a part of this incredible 65th anniversary that I thought if we can do anything at all at least get him the tape he missed, at least he would feel like he was a part of it."
Reilly adds, "He said Oh the nurse is going to get me a tape and he was so excited he was just beeming."
But Saturday Walt Mycka was moved to intensive care.
Lau worried, "We ended up having to transfer him off the floor that day and I was a little nervous we wouldn't get the tape to him."
But today Mycka improved and was surrounded by nurses, he watches the tape.
Lau adds, "He is a beautiful man with a beautiful smile and he's got a big smile today."
Reilly comments, "He is a fighter so I'm sure he'll overcome this and we'll get to go home."
Mycka said his biggest disappointment was missing the chance to meet Tom Brokaw and hear his speech.