Marine Veteran Was More Than a Pearl Harbor Survivor

Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.
Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.

BREMERTON — Maynard Hoffmann is known by many as a Pearl Harbor survivor, but "Rocky" was so much more.

Hoffmann, who died Friday at 97, excelled as a Marine, lumberman and family guy.

In fact, he didn't like to talk much about the Japanese raid, or World War II in general.

"It's been 67 years," he said in a 2008 Kitsap Sun story. "This thing has been hashed over so many times, I'd just as soon forget about it."

Hoffmann was a 21-year-old sergeant assigned to Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, about 3 miles from Pearl Harbor. Japanese dive bombers and fighters destroyed or badly damaged all of the base's 49 planes while Rocky and his mates shot at them with rifles. Four Marines and two civilians were killed and 20 wounded.

Son Eric, the eldest of three children, said the only time he heard his dad speak about the war was one night when Rocky and a friend got drunk and started telling stories.

"I think it was painful for him," said Eric, 69.

That's not to say Rocky wasn't proud of his military career. He served in the Marine Corps and Reserves for more than 20 years, retiring as a major.

"When we'd go out to dinner, people would come up and thank him for his service and buy his meal almost every time," Eric said. "He really loved that."

The Hoffmanns arrived in Kitsap County in 1963 when Rocky's employer, wood products company Palmer G. Lewis, opened a branch in Gorst. Who better to send over to run it than a former Marine?

"He sold a lot of two-by-fours to the Navy," said son Mark, 68.

Rocky would go on to become a company vice president, manage Kitsap Lumber near the Bremerton ferry dock and be part owner of Parker Lumber.

The family lived on South Marine Drive and enjoyed Oyster Bay from a speedboat and spent much time with Rocky's siblings and their kids.

"Because of how my dad's family was, we took all vacations together, parties, we celebrated holidays together, went on camping trips together," Eric said. "It wouldn't just be the five of us, it would be everybody. It was really cool and had a big impact on us."

Rocky enjoyed playing the accordion, but his wife of 63 years, Marian, detested the sound.

"He was banished to the upstairs bathroom and would sit on the loo and play," said daughter Denise, 63, who loved to sing along to "You Are My Sunshine." "Every time there was a party, dad's accordion would come out."

Rocky was a social guy, involved in Rotary, Shriners, bridge and golf.

"He loved to get out and golf," Denise said. "He went to tournaments everywhere. Kitsap Golf and Country Club was a huge part of his life."

The club awarded him a lifetime membership on his 90th birthday.

Rocky embodied the values of the Greatest Generation — hard work, honesty, fairness.

"He was very concerned about the country and the morals of the country and the direction it was taking," Eric said. "He was conservative in all ways."

With Hoffmann's death, four Pearl Harbor survivors remain in Kitsap County.

Show Full Article