On this day 75 years ago, the United States was thrust into World War II after the Japanese carried out a successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. While many remember the day in various fashions, one man champions a 1941 Buick with a hell of a history to remember its fallen owner.
The Detroit Free Press tells the story of John Michalek of Plymouth, Michigan. He is now the owner of a 1941 Buick that survived the vicious attack on Pearl Harbor. Its owner, Gordon Sterling Jr., died while defending his country on December 7, 1941.
Michalek married into the Sterling family and his since made it his mission to keep the car in honor of Gordon Sterling, who originally purchased the Buick in 1941 as his first new car.
Sterling’s grand-niece, Amy Schroeder, remembers her grandfather originally taking care of the Buick in honor.
“He took the car to shows and parades, keeping his brother’s memory alive,” Michalek said. “I heard the story from him.”
After Schroeder’s grandfather’s health began to fail, Michalek stepped in to ensure the Buick would be well taken care of. The only damage to the Buick during the Japanese attack was a bullet hole through the front windshield. That has since been replace, but the original windshield remains in the trunk as part of the car’s legacy.
Gordon Sterling’s remains were never recovered following the Pearl Harbor attack, but memorials dedicated to him many others sit at the site and at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Schroeder’s three-year-old son is now beginning to become interested in cars, and Michalek thinks the Buick will have a good home in the future.
“He’s starting to be interested in cars,” Michalek said. “Maybe next year we’ll take the Buick out together.”