By Tyler St. Marie
George Hakomaki was a World War 2 veteran. He was born in Gilbert, Minnesota, in 1919. He graduated high school in 1939. He went in to the U.S. Army Air Corps cadet training in September, 1941. He was a B-26 pilot and a member of the 442nd Bomb Squadron of the 320th Bomb Group, 12th Air Force. He then flew 51 bombing missions over Italy. He was assigned to missions as squadron leader.
He bombed Rome’s rail yards with his crew. His exact words for that mission were: “I was the squadron leader of three planes among a total group of twenty planes. The mission was to bomb a bridge in Orveto, which is in northern Italy. On the way, I spotted a flatbed train carrying materials needed to build another bridge. I and my squadron veered off the original target and we bombed the train. So in our mission, we were successful in two different areas.”
George returned home July 30th 1944 as Lieutenant colonel. He then worked as a quality control supervisor for 34 years at the USX Minntac plant. After George retired, he never bought a loaf of bread again. George baked his own pies, bread, and cookies. He loved walking in the park with his two beagles. He was also a lifetime member of the Masons, and the Shriners.
I knew George personally for working with him at The Rivers. He had a good sense of humor and was very enjoyable to be around. Although he didn’t talk much, he always had something funny to say when he did. I cut up his food for him several times so he wouldn’t choke. He had a special diet with desserts as well. George enjoyed eating sherbet ice cream.
He was always smiling and sincere. There was one thing that really touched me. A nurse brought him to the dining room and he asked her for a hug. The nurse said yes, and gave him a hug. Then George said “Thanks, I really needed that.” I also remember asking him what he wanted to eat for dinner. He would always reply saying he wanted steak no matter what. He was always quiet around the other residents that lived there.
George suddenly passed away on 12/14/13, a day I will never forget. I felt honored to be a part of his life for his last few months. I walked out in the dining room where he and all the other residents, and they were waving their arms at us. One of our employees went and grabbed the head nurse, and the other nurses to help. He looked like he was choking because his face was dark blue. The nurse then grabbed him, and put him on the ground and started doing chest compressions. George had no response to anything.
George wasn’t moving, breathing, blinking, or showing any sign that he was still with us. The nurse was yelling “George you’re going to be fine, stay with us!” In my mind at that moment, I knew he was gone. I knew his time had come and he left us that Saturday night around 5:20P.M. E.M.T.’s had come and did their job, but he was already gone. George should be remembered as a great man. All the things in his past could make a history book.