'So honored': Keiki give Pearl Harbor survivor big birthday surprise

Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 at 6:09 PM HST
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PEARL HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 97-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor got quite a birthday surprise on Thursday.

In a surprise ceremony, students at Navy Hale Keiki School dedicated their new library to 97-year-old Michael "Mickey" Ganitch, a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Ganitch served aboard the USS Pennsylvania as a navigator when the attack happened.

"We've been preparing for this for about month now," said fifth grader Liam Boland.

"I feel like he's going to be really happy because he's got no clue that it's going to happen," said Bridget Edmondson, a fourth grader.

Ganitch and wife, Barbara, live in California.

When they arrived Friday at the school, Mickey Ganitch thought it was to chat with students and to help open their new library.

But then they asked him to unveil the library's new sign.

"Oh, I was just so honored there," he said. "I'm just proud that I can be here. I'm one of the lucky ones that survived."

Principal Monique Raduziner said Ganitch "embodies everything that we want out kids to be."

"He is humble, he is kind. He takes responsibility for his actions. He has a spirit of volunteerism. He's a real role model," she said.

Ganitch's 98th birthday is actually next week Saturday -- on Nov. 18.

But on Friday, inside the library named in his honor, it wasn't tough to tell that he'd already gotten a better gift than he could have ever asked for.

"This is the best," Ganitch said. "I'm just proud to be here and these wonderful kids mean an awful lot to me."

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