A Pearl Harbor radar man returns to Hawaii

December 7, 1941…

David Venditta

Dick Schimmel last month at the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project Roundtable

Pearl Harbor survivor Dick Schimmel was a familiar sight at the Allentown YMCA when I was going there to swim. I remember thinking, here’s an old guy who’s taking care of himself, staying fit.

That was two decades ago. Schimmel is ninety-nine now and spry as ever. He’s in Hawaii with his grandson Mark for ceremonies marking the eightieth anniversary of the Japanese attack that yanked the U.S. into World War II.

Though I knew about Schimmel from the Y as we entered the new millennium, it was years before I interviewed him, not until 2007. That’s when I wrote an “in their own words” war story about his experience on December 7, 1941. He was with the Army’s new radar unit, which had early warning of a large number of planes heading for Oahu. Stationed at Fort…

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