LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A World War two veteran and his great grandson have developed a special relationship the past few months, and it's all due to a classroom project.
When Prien Lake Elementary third grader Henry Hoffpauir was choosing a theme for his shoe box Mardi Gras float entry, he knew just what to do. He would honor his great grandfather, Delbert Pearce, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War 2.
"He like remembers a lot of stuff," said Henry. "He's super intelligent, should I say."
Delbert, or Pop as Henry calls him, served on board the U.S.S. Wake Island in the Pacific Theatre.
"I wasn't but 19 at the time," said Pearce. "The Navy didn't want old people. They want young ones. They can tell them what to do and they're crazy enough to do it."
He served in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where his ship was attacked by suicide kamikaze planes.
"One went on the port side in the water. The other one pulled out of it, made a right turn and come back and hit the ship under the water line."
But this simple school project has done much more than result in an entry and essay in a contest. It's opened Pop up to talking more about his war time service.
"I never did talk to my kids about wartime service. They knew I was in the service but that's all. I wanted to forget it, like a million other servicemen."
And as he approaches his 94th birthday next week, Delbert Pearce is thankful for surviving all those battles.
"Many a time I asked the good Lord to let me come home and see my family one more time and I'd be ready to go. But he did better than that. He brought me home in one piece, all safe."
And what does Henry think of Pop? Well that's obvious.
"He is the nicest person on earth. that's what I would say."
Henry received a first place in his class for his report and mini float on his grandfather. Delbert Pearce turns 94 on Monday, January 15, 2018.