Crowdfunding campaign helps 101-year-old Pearl Harbor hero attend 80th anniversary remembrance

KILO PIER, Hawaii — Thanks to the generosity of total strangers, 101-year-old Ira “Ike” Schab will be one of about 40 survivors in attendance at a Tuesday remembrance ceremony for the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

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“Eighty years is a long, long time, and I’m still here,” Schab told Hawaii News Now.

At issue, however, had been Schab’s health, which requires two caregivers, meaning the family could not afford the needed airfare and lodging for the trip from Aloha, Oregon, to Hawaii.

To the family’s surprise, an online fundraising campaign opened the floodgates of well-wishers and benefactors, amassing more than enough to foot the trip’s bill.

“What is most amazing to me is that people did respond,” Kimberlee Heinrichs, Schab’s daughter, told Hawaii News Now, noting how hard it was to find words to convey her gratitude.

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Schab, however, had no trouble.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” he told the news outlet. “It was very generous and unexpected and very kind, and I am forever grateful.”

Schab told CNN that he was on a docked ship when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

“I don’t remember seeing the Arizona get hit, but I remember being at the bow of our ship and a big high tower of flame and debris came off of her,” Schab, who was a 21-year-old Naval musician assigned to the USS Dobbin at the time of the attack, told the network.

“It’s getting harder to remember these things, but I remember trying not to get killed during the war. Like most people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Schab, the last surviving member of Navy Band 13, guest-conducted the Pacific Fleet Band band at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Sunday ahead of Tuesday’s remembrance ceremony, Hawaii News Now reported.