On December 7, 2017, Joe George, a man best known for his heroics during the Pearl Harbor attack that saved several sailors trapped on the USS Arizona (BB-39), was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star Medal for Valor. It was an award that was a long-time coming, hindered by the fact that George had disobeyed a direct order.
For years, several of the men he saved, including Donald Stratton and Lauren Bruner, fought to have Joe George commended for his actions. Years after they started their campaign, the two, along with George’s daughter Joe Ann Taylor, found themselves standing in front of President Donald Trump, who thanked them and George for their bravery.
A Filmmaker’s Tribute
It seemed like Joe George’s story had finally received the happy ending everyone wanted, but documentary filmmaker Tim Gray still felt there was more to be done to honor the late Pearl Harbor hero. While managing the World War II Foundation and creating a new World War II Education Center in South Kingstown, RI, Gray also found time to film the twenty-first documentary in his filmography:
Lifeline: Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Hero.
Lifeline tells the story of Joe George’s life, including the moment on December 7, 1941 when he became a hero. It was the same event that kept him from receiving the award that many believed was his due.
One Order Disobeyed, Six Lives Saved
During the Pearl Harbor attack, George was serving aboard USS Vestal (AR-4), a repair ship tied to USS Arizona. After Arizona took extensive damage, Joe George was ordered to cut Vestal free from the battleship. Had he done so, George would have stranded a group of Arizona sailors trapped on her deck. He made the decision to throw over a rope and help them get across to the relative safety of Vestal. Donald Stratton and Lauren Bruner were among those men and feel eternally grateful and indebted to George. So they wrote letters and spoke out to try and earn their savior the recognition he deserved.
Tim Gray picked up on the story and thought it was one worth telling. To do so, he created Lifeline: Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Hero and pegged Gary Sinise to narrate. Sinise is well-known for his work on behalf of US military veterans.
Efforts are currently underway to have Joe George recognized with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award.
Lifeline: Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Hero is scheduled for release on November 12, 2018, the day after Veteran’s Day. The movie is slated to open in select theaters across the United States.