Good Samaritan responds to plight of WWII survivor


If you saw ABC7's original story about him, you'll remember that Mickey Ganitch is 92-years-old and a Pearl Harbor survivor. The story touched a nerve. After it aired, ABC7 received many, many emails from people who wanted to help.

The last time Mickey Ganitch sat in the waiting room of the San Leandro Police Department, his prospects were bleak. "I was devastated," he said. His wife Barbara said she'd never seen him that upset before. It was April 4th, in the parking lot of a local restaurant. Mr. Ganitch had returned to his car and found it broken into. Someone took his briefcase with World War II medals, his hat, and more.

We asked him, of all the items, which was the most difficult to replace? "The sextant," he said. It was the same sextant he had aboard the USS Pennsylvania when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the sextant he used to teach kids in schools, the sextant that physically linked the 92-year-old man with all of that history.


When we met with Mickey Ganitch earlier this month, he was distraught. "It's so meaningful. I'd like to get it back. Don't throw it away because I would like to have it back. Please give it back to me," he pleaded, sobbingly. That interview and this crime deeply disturbed a complete stranger, Michael Santos, who did not sit idly by in waiting for the thief to return those items. "This man or woman doesn't deserve to be breathing air," he told ABC7.

Michael Santos made it right. The U.S. Navy Mark II Sextant Michael found and purchased on eBay is almost the same as the one Mickey Ganitch used. When the aging and experienced navigator took it in his hands, the pain of the past few weeks disappeared. The teacher returned. Mickey Ganitch once again held an instrument that has given direction to his life.

When Mr. Ganitch left the police station, he gave the new sextant to his wife Barbara for safekeeping because she was going straight home. He does not want to risk losing it. He has three lectures next month.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.