From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay
The story of one Iowa sailor
By Kennan Sheda
The family of Paul James Novak of Elberon, Iowa has been invited to share his story for “Remember Pearl Harbor Day 2020.” Although the venue and format of this observation, usually held each December 7 in Tama County, has yet to be finalized, it is a unique story from the greatest generation.
Paul Novak, 18, a seaman second class assigned to the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia, was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His family was initially notified via telegram and it was presumed that he was dead. After his funeral, the family learned that he had indeed survived. Novak was eventually transferred to the flagship U.S.S. Rutland (APA 192) and witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Because some lists of casualties from Pearl Harbor were not updated, the name of Paul Novak appears on the World War II memorial in Des Moines as one of the first from Iowa to die in WW II.
As we note the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it is incumbent on us to remember the great sacrifice of this generation of Americans and pass these stories on to younger generations who may never have known a veteran of this war.
Final plans from “Remember Pearl Harbor Day 2020” will be announced in November. For more information, please contact The American Legion in Tama at (641) 484-4522.