When the bombs started falling Dec. 7, 1941, all the scrawny little guy from Iowa knew was that instead of being at breakfast he was suddenly at war. A Marine radar operator for all of six months who had never left his home state before that year, he wouldn’t be your first pick for a hero.
But like everyone around him, Bob Wilkinson pulled out his bolt-action Springfield rifle, climbed onto the roof and started shooting into the sky. He was my grandfather, and he had more guts in that moment than anyone I can imagine.
No, he didn’t take down one of the Japanese planes out to cripple the Pacific Fleet. Neither did anyone standing next to him. But he had to do something against the disaster.