Prior to the game between the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos in Oakland on Sunday, Mickey Ganitch, a 98-year-old Navy veteran and survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, was honored at midfield as part of the Raiders' “salute to service.”
Mickey Ganitch is a 98-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor and diehard member of #RaiderNation.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) November 27, 2017
Ganitch is a well-known local figure and a Raiders fan who played football while in the military.
In 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Ganitch about his experiences in the Pacific, including what he witnessed on Dec. 7, 1941. On the day of the attack, the football team from his ship, the USS Pennsylvania, was set to face off against players from the USS Arizona, which ended up at the bottom of the harbor.
— SFGate (@SFGate) November 27, 2017
Ganich was 22 years old at the time. From the story:
The Pennsylvania was in dry dock along with two other destroyers when the attack came. Ganitch, who had been in the Navy for 10 months, didn't see the bomb, but felt the crow's nest shudder as the armor-piercing shell ripped into the ship, then detonated.
“It wiped out the gun crew and everyone else in that area,” Ganitch said.
A second bomb hit the destroyer next to the Pennsylvania, igniting an oil slick between the two ships. Japanese planes then strafed the Pennsylvania.
“They were so close it looked like you could throw rocks at them,” Ganitch said. “Anyone who said they weren't scared was a liar. Everyone was scared.”
Ganitch served in the Navy for 23 years, later returning to California in the 1960s to work for a fishing net manufacturer in Oakland.