One Tulsa man's father had a front-row seat on history during the start of World War II. George Dany Jr. works at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. His dad, George Dany Sr., was on his way to Washington DC when Pearl Harbor was attacked and wound up having dinner with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says George Senior was a military pilot during World War II. George Junior says his dad had a special passenger on his trip to the nation's capital. And that's how he got an invitation to see the President. According to his dad's memoirs, George Dany Jr. says it was fall of 1941 that his dad's base had a routine assignment of a very special student. "He was a commander of the navigation school at Kelley Air Force Base in Texas."
Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to get flight navigation training from Major General George Dany Sr. President Roosevelt wanted to see his son, so for Elliott Roosevelt's final navigation test, he and George's dad and another pilot flew to Washington DC. They were in the air when George's dad heard the news. "He was listening to the radio and heard reports from the Nashville station that Pearl Harbor had been attacked."
When they landed, George's dad got another shock, albeit a more pleasant one. He would not be staying at the visiting officer's quarters as usual. "And that's what they had planned, and everything was already arranged. And Elliott said you're going to spend the night at the White House, and he couldn't really refuse that." Dany stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Later, he and others had dinner with President Roosevelt where there was only one ground rule. "When they had dinner with the President, they were not to mention the word Pearl Harbor." In a letter to his wife, George's dad said he was 15 feet away from the microphone when the President gave his first fireside chat about the war. "In the letter he wrote to my mom, he explained about how special that time was, and he considered it an honor to be able to do thatâ€.
Combining the excitement of his White House visit with the sobering news of Pearl Harbor, George Junior wonders what his dad might have been thinking. "I can imagine what's he's thinking. Y'know he's going to war, and he had no idea what the future would have in store for him."
There would be another amazing coincidence in 1988. George Junior was an engineer at the Panama Canal. He went on board to do a routine inspection of a ship, and in the ship's lounge, just by chance, he ran into his dad's old friend, 78-year-old Elliott Roosevelt.