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Mon-Yough's last Pearl Harbor heroes die

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 5:41 a.m.
 

The last Mon-Yough survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor have died.

Art Nagy, 90, of McKeesport, died Sunday, while Bernard S. Ordos, 93, of West Mifflin, passed away on Oct. 20.

They served in the Army on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, when the empire of Japan plunged the United States into World War II.

Nagy recalled that the Japanese bombers were so close, “I could have shot one down if I had a .45 (caliber pistol).”

At that same time, Ordos was waiting to be relieved of guard duty on the Navy base near the Schofield Barracks.

“He was right in the middle of that fight,” said state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, who cited Ordos for his service in 2008. “He armed himself and started firing back.”

“I could see it plain as day,” Ordos recalled in 2011. “I don't know why he didn't come down and machine-gun me.”

His family back home, including his bride of a year, the former Betty Kasnik, did not know that Ordos survived unhurt; they could not reach him for more than a week.

Betty Ordos said she spent more than $50 to call Hawaii for news of her husband.

Nagy said he and fellow troops dodged a hail of gunfire, and many didn't make it. Bullets were fired by front and rear gunners flying in a formation of warplanes.

“We had an old-timer who was sitting up in the barracks,” Nagy said in 2010. “He was an infantryman in World War I. He was standing, looking out the window, and said, ‘The rising sun attacked us.'”

Japan, “the land of the rising sun” had a flag with a red sun on a white background.

The air reeked of anxiety, but American servicemen and women stood against their attackers, Nagy said. They were alert, but still nervous.

“People were so shook up that they were shooting at anything. Shoot a cow. Shoot a spotlight,” Nagy said. “One man shot at his own reflection in a search light.”

Nagy “was a heck of a guy,” said Clifford W. Flegal Sr., 92, a leading organizer of Flag Day and Pearl Harbor Day observances at the Palisades. “He was a pretty nice fellow.”

“Art Nagy was a tremendous representative of the city of McKeesport during wartime,” said state Sen. and former Mayor James R. Brewster, D-McKeesport. “After his distinguished military service he was a pillar of our community. Art will truly be missed by all who knew him.”

Ordos “was a great man,” Kortz said, noting he was part of what was called “that greatest generation” by newsman and author Tom Brokaw.

“We've lost so many of those men,” Kortz went on. “We're losing too many of them. It is important we remember that history and what they did.”

“(Ordos) was a very quiet man,” recalled Chuck Krebs, past West Mifflin VFW Post 914 Intrepid commander. “He shared his time in the service with his fellow comrades, with his fellow veterans, he wasn't a braggart. He would have a nice conversation with them.”

Krebs said Ordos, a lifetime member of Post 914, “was just an upright guy, an upright American citizen.”

“I've had the privilege of knowing both Art Nagy and Bernard Ordos through the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” said Mike Mauer, quartermaster of VFW Post 914. “Each of these gentlemen showed me that many of those who are called to defend our nation's freedoms return after their military service and give back to their communities by being solid citizens.”

Ordos was laid to rest with honors after two services last month. One was a military send-off attended by 15 Post 914 members at Munhall's Savolskis-Wasik-Glenn Funeral Home. The other was held at New Covenant Community Church in Homestead.

William H. Craig Funeral Home in McKeesport is handling arrangements for Nagy's funeral. Friends will be received there Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m., with a service scheduled there Thursday at 11 a.m.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

 

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