For officer, presiding over commemoration of Pearl Harbor attack was personal
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - During last year’s 79th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mike Genta served as emcee.
It was more than an assignment.
His family was personally involved on the “date of infamy.”
“Call it whatever you will, we’ve got a lot of connection to this part of the world,” he said. On the day of Japan’s surprise attack, Genta’s grandfather, John, was stationed at Kaneohe Bay.
“He was a PBY Catalina sea plane pilot. And he was here on Dec. 7, 1941,” Genta said.
The Naval Air Station was the first site Japanese fighter planes targeted. Eighteen sailors were killed. Genta’s grandfather was injured.
His other tie to Dec. 7 comes through his grandmother. Her brother was at Pearl Harbor.
“My great uncle, Truman H. Landon, went on to become a four-star Air Force General and had quite a distinguished career,” Genta said.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Landon commanded the squadron of B-17 bombers that was headed to Hickam Field.
“Many historians attribute one of the successes of the Japanese surprise attack was the coincidence that the B-17 bombers were coming in,” Genta said.
Land-based radar operators were told to disregard the blips on their screen that turned out to be Japan’s first wave of war planes.
Genta’s great-uncle would oversee the U.S. bombing command in the Central Pacific, while his grandfather would go on to become a test pilot during the beginning stages of NASA, working alongside the first Americans who’d travel into outer space.
“John Glenn was a pallbearer at my grandfather’s funeral,” Genta said.
Genta is commanding officer of the Honolulu Military Entrance Processing Station.
He has proudly participated in several Pearl Harbor commemorations, meeting veterans and hearing their Dec. 7 stories.
He has quite a story too.
Later this year, Genta and his family will leave Hawaii for a new duty station in Naples, Italy.
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