On Dec. 7, 1941, a shipyard worker and his son jumped into action to save lives

Published: Dec. 7, 2019 at 8:45 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A shipyard worker and his son are two Pearl Harbor heroes you’ve probably never heard about.

But they put their their lives on the line when Japan attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

As bombs exploded on Battleship Row, across the way at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard George Walters sat perched in his 50-ton crane.

“He was supposed to service the ships in Dry Dock 1,” Lewis Walters said of his late father.

He remembers his dad’s heroics as Japanese fighters descended on the dry dock and three U.S. Navy ships. Walters shielded the USS Pennsylvania battleship with the crane and used its boom as a weapon.

"He was trying to hit the planes. And he was pointing at the planes so the ships below can see the planes coming," Lewis said.

He said his father stayed put until a bomb landed close to his crane.

"It exploded, so he passed out," he said.

On that day Lewis Walters was a young shipyard apprentice. He helped move dead sailors' bodies to a makeshift morgue.

"The road was paved with bullets," he said.

Months after December 7, Lewis and other shipyard workers repaired the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier for the Battle of Midway.

Navy Adm. Chester Nimitz demanded it be done fast.

"We had three days to get that work done. So we worked round the clock," Lewis said.

Decades later during another conflict the shipyard sent Lewis to Vietnam to work on Navy vessels. He was captured and held for three days, his legs pierced with sharp bamboo sticks to keep him from escaping.

“They tried to put it in here and hit the bone,” he said, pointing to a scar on his shin.

George Walters worked for the shipyard for 25 years after Japan's attack. He died in 1999. An annual shipyard award bears his name.

"My father is a fighter," Lewis said.

He is 94 and very proud of how his family responded when their country needed them.

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