COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A community is stepping up to help a veteran who witnessed the attacks on Pearl Harbor make it back for the 75th anniversary.
Milton Mapou, 95, was part of the work deck force onboard the USS Detroit when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
“We heard this explosion and we didn’t know what it was,” said Mapou. “I looked up, I see this plane coming in. The plane kept coming in. He was so low that I could see the pilot’s face. And I notice he dropped his torpedo and it when right across our bow into Ford Island and just missed us.”
Mapou said he saw battle ships explode and sink around him. It was a day he would never forget.
He continued his Navy service on other ships and received 10 battle stars and two Purple Hearts. He was wounded during a mission and was not able to reenlist.
Now, he is trying to make it back to Pearl Harbor for the first time since 1945.
“I am 94 years old now and it would be the last chance I figure that I have a chance to go back and see where all this happened to me. Where my life really started out in the Navy,” Mapou said.
Greg Keller, a volunteer at Mott’s Military Museum,started a fundraiser to help Mapou with the help of an organization called Foxhole Buddies.
“I feel like it’s an honor and a way for me to show my gratitude for his service and his sacrifice by making the effort to make this happen for Milt,” said Keller.
Through donations and the sale of a DVD interview with Mapou, they are well on their way to reaching their goal.
Mapou says he is in good health and is looking forward to the trip this December. “I think I will relive my youth again,” he said, “to see these things and to be there for the 75th anniversary.”