It was on this day in 1941 that Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, leading the United States to enter World War II.
“I enlisted at the tender age of 18 and one month,” said Jack Rodin, of Bloomfield.
That was one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the now 93-year-old veteran began serving his country as a member of the United States Air Force.
“I wanted to go. It was my country,” Rodin said.
He served for three years as a navigator, completing 23 successful bombing missions over Japan during World War II, but he says he’s not a hero.
It was a true team effort to get the job done.
“I am one of 11 guys. My responsibility as the navigator is to tell the pilots where to go and how to get there. They drive the bus. We wake up the bombardier when we see the target and say it’s about time you do something to pay for your keep,” Rodin said.
These missions were not without some hiccups along the way.
In one instance, the bombs on the plane wouldn’t deploy.
So Rodin and a fellow service member, Jack Shade, went to try to fix the problem and got out of harm’s way in the nick of time.
“We touch each bomb and wiggle each bomb and we can’t find anything wrong. So, we get a medal for being stupid. We get back in the airplane and all of a sudden, the bombs go out. And I look at Jack and he looks at me and says if we were in the bomb bay when that happened we would have gone out with it,” Rodin said.
While these close calls forged unbreakable bonds, it was the downtime that solidified these friendships for life.
Rodin points to a difficult message he had to deliver to his pilot named Knipp after receiving a devastating letter from Knipps, wife.
“Dear Jack, Roger our first and only son is deathly ill. I want you to use your best judgment as to when to tell Knipp because he is in command of this big airplane. There are 11 people including him whose lives are depending on it,” Rodin said.
While Rodin is the last remaining member of his 11-man crew, he says they all visited each other frequently over the years.
Their time in service was a time they will all never forget.
“Mine was a great adventure. I went into service willingly. I was well trained for what I did. I was very successful at what I did and had great relationships with everyone I did it with,” Rodin said.
After leaving the military, Rodin worked for Pratt and Whitney for 40 years.
He was married for 60 years and has two children.
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