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Pearl Harbor survivors persuade officials to award medal to man who saved their lives

David Montero, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, said George was "a big, strong, athletic man" and was known around the base for his boxing prowess. He said it wasn't a surprise that George would've been able to make that rope toss between the ships amid the chaos of the attack.

"George wasn't overweight," he said. "He was muscle."

Martinez said the six men's flight by rope to the Vestal is one of "the three great escape stories" that emerged from the attack.

Taylor, however, knew very little about her dad's life in the Navy or his heroics on Dec. 7.

She knew him as a "doting" father and a loving husband who was married for 52 years. George served in the Navy for 20 years, retiring as a chief petty officer in 1955.

Taylor said her dad never talked about Pearl Harbor until the late 1970s -- about the same time her husband came home after serving in the Vietnam War. Taylor said the two seemed to bond over their service, and George began to tell her husband about that day.

But she said George was a humble man who probably would not want all of the attention he's getting. She said he'd probably just say that "he was following his conscience" when he disobeyed an order and threw the rope.

 

Bruner, who got emotional during a phone interview, grew quiet for a moment. His caregiver, Ed Hoeschen, said Bruner fought back tears before saying the medal should've been given to George a long time ago.

"It's about damn time," Bruner said.

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