(KHNL) - Sixty-five years ago, Walter Mycka almost died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"He was so lucky, said Walter's Son-in-law, Al Smith. "About a week before the war started, he had been removed from the USS Maryland to go to gunnery school on Oahu's Leeward coast. And the young gentleman that replaced him was the first one killed."
Walter never forgot the day, or the place. Five years ago, he returned to visit the USS Arizona Memorial with his family for the 60th anniversary. Mycka dedicated a large portion of his life to keeping the memory of Pearl Harbor alive. In an earlier interview, he spoke about that visit.
"I had an impulse, and I did give a final salute to the USS Maryland and to the fallen sailor's; at the exact location where they had given up their lives."
He always felt connected to the spot where he almost lost his life, and so many other sacrificed theirs.
"To this day, a lot of survivors, including some that I know request that they be entombed or their ashes be scattered over the waters of Pearl Harbor," said Mycka when he visited Hawaii for the 60th anniversary of the attack.
Returning to Hawaii to commemorate Pearl Harbor's 65th anniversary, Walter planned to lay a wreath, and remember those who've passed away. Walter fell ill on December 7th, and never made it to the ceremony. He was hospitalized in Straub's intensive care unit until December 28th when he passed away. Now, his family is remembering him.
"Everyone knew that he wanted to go," said Smith solemnly. "What a place for him to go."
Even though he's gone, his family has peace, in part because Hawaii was his final resting place. Being here, they've experienced aloha firsthand.
"I came to hawaii to be of service to my family, said Walter Mycka's nephew, Umar Mycka. "But I found that I was given so much more. That Hawaii gave more service to me. I didn't come here expecting healing, but I received it."
In the end, Mycka's life came full circle.