Decorated World War II Veteran Robert A. Pintar Honored for Service


Decorated World War II D-Day veteran Robert A. Pintar was honored for his distinguished service in the U.S. Navy recently by his family and the Hospice of the Western Reserve (HWR) Liaison team. The veterans recognition ceremony took place at Lake West Hospital.

Conducting the ceremony was Master Sergeant Annette Rinaldi Reichman, a volunteer with HWR’s agency’s Peaceful and Proud program for veterans. Following a video performance of the National Anthem  sung by U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, and a patriotic reading about veterans, Master Sergeant Reichman saluted Mr. Pintar and thanked him for his service. Two of his daughters, Denise and Debbie, presented him with a commemorative pin and a certificate honoring his service.

Mr. Pintar survived a torpedo attack and a bombing and saved six lives during his tour of duty. He served in the Navy Construction Battalion as a “Seabee.” (The nickname “Seabee” was derived from the abbreviation for the battalion, "C.B."). The work of Seabees was crucially important to the day-to-day operations of the Navy.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, as Mr. Pintar was standing watch on the stern deck of a large concrete caisson, or "phoenix," the vessel came under attack by torpedoes. A harrowing account of the episode is recorded in his personal diary on June 16, 1994: “We were blown 20 feet into the air. By the time we landed back on deck, the phoenix was listing to port about 30 degrees and sinking fast. We slid and tumbled on the deck to the port side and into the sea. The sinking phoenix caisson sucked us down with it to the bottom of the English Channel about 150 feet, 10 miles from the coast of France.”

On June 8, after being picked up by the HMS Vivacious British Destroyer, a German aircraft dropped two 50-lb. bombs on the ship. Mr. Pintar was again thrown into the air and plunged into the sea, spending more than five hours in the water. He sustained an injured back and hip and 40 percent hearing loss.  After his recovery, he went back and served in Okinawa, Japan. After completing his military service, he earned his livelihood as a Master Plumber and helped many family and friends through his years owning his own business.

Despite the incredibly traumatic events he experienced – and witnessed - while serving in the Navy, Mr. Pintar somehow manages to retain his sense of humor. During the veterans recognition ceremony – as his two daughters showed him a military picture from 1943, he cracked a smile and said, “I was chasing girls back then.” The singing of “God Bless America” at the end of the ceremony by HWR Spiritual Care Coordinator, Denise Neil, touched the Navy veteran deeply, bringing him to tears. 

We salute you, Mr. Pintar! We are grateful for your bravery, and we thank you for the lives you saved and  the incredible sacrifices you made to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today.

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