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Pearl Harbor hero speaks at Victory House

Pearl Harbor hero speaks at Victory House

Aug. 17, 1942: During War Heroes Day at Victory House in Pershing Square, Gunners Mate Mel Van Keuren addresses the crowd. Van Keuren was credited with downing the first Japanese bomber at Pearl Harbor.

Victory house was an entertainment area created in Pershing Square for rallies and selling war bonds. Van Keuren’s appearance was part of helping Los Angeles meet its $2.5-million war bond quota for the month of August 1942.

An earlier July 8, 1942, Los Angeles Times story reported on Mel Van Keuren while he was donating blood:

The first jab Van Keuren made to avenge Pearl Harbor was in the form of a pint of blood he donated at the Red Cross Bank at 925 S. Western Ave. His father, Henry C. Van Keuren, also gave a pint.

Young Van Keuren was wounded at Pearl Harbor and credits the eight transfusions he received with saving his life. But he’s “as good as new now–or even better” and wants to pay back the precious plasma.

After Pearl Harbor young Van Keuren wrote his father that “everything’s all right. Don’t worry.” And that’s about all he said. However a censor postscripted that Mel shot down the first Japanese bomber of the several accounted for in the raid, proudly says the elder Van Keuren….

July 7, 1942: Nurse Bobbe Kester takes temperature and pulse of Gunners Mate Mel Van Keuren, who donated blood for plasma. His life was saved by plasma after Pearl Harbor attack. Credit: Proquest.

The above photo accompanied the quoted July 8, 1942 Los Angeles Times story. The print or negative is not in the archives.

For more check out this Pearl Harbor photo gallery: A date which will live in infamy.

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1 Comment

  1. December 7, 2013, 6:10 am

    Sad that the events that day in '41 are relegated to a footnote next to 'share it now', in the LA Times. If it were a 911 article it would be plastered all over the front page, tv screens and radio waves.
    Very sad, indeed.


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