One of the few survivors still alive from the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor found himself one of two passengers thrown off his flight to attend the Honolulu memorial service citing the anniversary of the sneak attack, as reported by Fox59.com of Indianapolis. To add insult to injury, the other passenger bounced was reportedly confined to a wheelchair.
Former crew member of the Destroyer USS Patterson (DD-392), 90-year-old Ewalt “Walt” Shatz had every intention of catching his flight out of Los Angeles International Airport for Honolulu to be one of the honored guests at the 72d anniversary memorial of the attack that killed or wounded almost 4,000 American servicemen and civilians.
Instead of boarding the flight he was booked on and arrived in time for, the former Blue Jacket was informed that due to “severe weather” his United Airlines flight had to take on extra fuel, which meant two passengers would have to catch a later flight.
Reportedly, a representative from United “told [Shatz] that only two customers were taken off the flight, and the only other person he saw was a man in a wheelchair.”
The combat vet found himself with an 8-hour delay, and when he finally did fly to the Hawaiian Islands, his flight went instead to Maui instead of Oahu.
After that delay, Shatz did eventually make it to Honolulu in time for the commemoration, but unfortunately “he said he had not heard from United since the incident and planned never to fly on the airline again.”
Boy to Man in the Course of a Sunday Morning…
On December 7, 1941, Shatz was credited by the Navy as accomplishing a feat during the attack that is normally seen only in Hollywood movies.
The 18-year-old Shatz was recognized by the Navy as personally downing one of the attacking Japanese aircraft while manning one of the Patterson’s .50-caliber machine guns.
Even more amazing than achieving something very few have ever actually done in battle, Shatz shooting a warplane out of the sky on the date that lives in infamy was the first time he ever laid hands on on a .50 cal.