July 15, 1922 ~ September 9, 2008
Thomas "Mickey" Michenovich died on September 9, 2008 from natural causes in Torrance, California. Mickey was born on July 15, 1922 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to Russian immigrants. As children, Mickey and his brother, John, were sent to live with their aunt and grandmother after their parents died. Soon after, however, the aunt and grandmother could no longer care for them and they were placed in an orphanage.
Upon turning eighteen, Mickey left Pennsylvania to join the United States Navy. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Mickey was serving as a sailor on the USS West Virginia. He was below deck shaving when the first torpedo struck and the call came to "man your battle stations." Mickey hurried onto the deck only to see the sailor in front of him struck and killed by shrapnel and the ship rapidly going up in flames. The West Virginia took seven torpedoes and two bombs before sinking that day. Although Mickey survived the chaos relatively unscathed, a telegram was still sent to his brother stating he had died in the attack.
After finishing his tour of duty, Mickey moved to Hermosa Beach. He worked as a bartender before learning his lifelong trade, pipefitting. Soon after, Mickey married his first wife, Billie. They had two daughters, Karen and Michelle. When their twelve year marriage ended, Billie and the girls moved to Texas. Mickey remained in southern California, and continued to work as a pipe fitter. In 1984, Mickey married Pauline Burr. They lived together in Torrance until Pauline passed away in May of this year.
Throughout his life, Mickey prided himself on his good physical condition and the discipline he learned in the Navy. He exercised daily and made his bed each morning until his failing health would no longer permit him to do so. He also enjoyed taking care of his yard. Those passing by would often see him picking individual leaves from his lawn by hand.
Mickey also enjoyed his many acquaintances in the South Bay. He was a member of the American Legion, VFW, Moose Lodge, and Pearl Harbor Association. Most afternoons he could be found with friends at his favorite neighborhood bar, The Anza Inn.
Mickey was most proud to be a survivor of Pearl Harbor. He attended Pearl Harbor remembrances every year in Hawaii. He always said he would attend as long as he was able; and he did, having spent last December 7 in Honolulu.
Mickey will be cremated and his cremains will be divided into two portions. One portion will be placed at the gravesite of his late wife, Pauline, in Oklahoma and the other portion will be sent to Pearl Harbor for a United States Navy burial at sea.
Family and friends will be remembering Mickey on October 30th, 3:00pm, at the Anza Inn in Torrance.
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