Pearl Harbor survivor to be grand marshal for Canal Winchester Labor Day parade

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Milton Mapou walks through the Motts Military Museum with ease and determination.

“I can do it,” he says as volunteers try to help him along the way.

Looks don’t show his age, nor does his memory.

Mapou is 94 years young. He entered the military in 1940.

“February 6, I enlisted in the United States Navy,” Mapou said.

For him, the date certainly doesn’t seem like it happened more than 70 years ago.

“Oh yes, I remember,” he said with a bright smile on his face.

One of Milton Mapou’s first assignments was aboard the USS Dixie during a tour of the Panama Canal and back up to San Diego before headed to Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, Mapou survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mapou also survived kamikaze attacks while aboard the USS Pringle at Okinawa, Japan.

“Well, my ship was sunk and when I came to my foot was up here on my chest. One man reached down and inflated my life belt, he says ‘that's all I can do for you Mapou’ and over he went,” Mapou said. “I looked up into the sky and said Dear God, get me off this thing. And next thing I knew I was in the water.”

Mapou says he was in a body cast for over a year.

“I never figured I’d last this long,” Mapou said.

Seventy-five years later, Mapou is being honored by his friends and community.

“He is living history,” veteran Greg Keller said. “He deserves our attention as much as we can provide.”

Keller, along with a committee of others, started a fundraiser to help Mapou get back to the battleground.

“I had a great uncle who served in the Pacific. And I never took time to learn his story and to bring it to record for history,” Mapou said. “I thought, what would be the best way to honor his service and his history and that would be a return trip to Pearl Harbor.”

Mapou is now doing public appearances and selling a DVD made about his life.

Mapou will be the grand marshal for the Canal Winchester parade on Labor Day. He will also be at Stradley Stage from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Monday just after the parade.

His DVD will be available for sale at each event for $20.