PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - Family, friends and Patriot Guard Riders said goodbye to a local Pearl Harbor survivor Friday during a memorial at Barrancas National Cemetery.
Yeoman First Class George Mills, 92, was given full military honors for his 37 years of combined service to the Navy and Air Force Civil Services.
But after the service, a smaller gathering at Mills' final resting place….just his son Fred and two dear friends. Mills' caretaker, Holly Shelton chose social work because of him, to try to impact the lives of veterans.
"I'm sad," Shelton said. "I've lost one of the best friends I ever had. But it's part of life, and I'm so blessed that he came along and did change my life. He made me feel so rich with love and memories of his life. But today kind of helps me close that chapter."
Mills shares a plot with his late wife Roni, also a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"He loved her so much. He met her in the ginger fields. It was instant love in Hawaii before the war," Shelton said.
"He had a good sense of humor, very dry, very dry sense of humor," said Mills' friend Liz Watkins. "But, you'd think he wasn't listening to you, and you'd be talking then all of the sudden he'd just smile. He had the best smile. He was just happy to be alive."
Watkins was retired from video production…until she met George Mills. It was George's dream to return to Pearl for one last goodbye. Watkins helped make that happen, and produced a documentary on the survivors.
"George's first wish to me on October 3, 2011 and his last wish to me on December 22, 2012 was to keep the memory of Pearl Harbor and World War II alive, and to make sure that future generations know why they happened and I intend on doing that for him," Watkins said.
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