Pearl Harbor, cancer survivor honored by Moffitt Cancer Center

By Katie Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, November 10, 2017, 3:07 PM EST

He survived one of the deadliest attacks in U.S. History and beat cancer, twice.

On Friday, World War II veteran George Kondas was honored for his service and sacrifice at Moffitt Cancer Center.

  • George Kondas recalls Pearl Harbor attacks
  • He has twice survived cancer
  • He was celebrated Friday by Moffitt Cancer Center

Kondas said he remembers Pearl Harbor like it was yesterday.

"Complete shock, I mean, 'What in the hell is going on here? Why are they attacking us?'" Kondas said.

Kondas is one of the few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors. The World War II veteran initially thought he was going through a drill, but when he saw hundreds of planes flying overhead, he knew there was trouble.

"There was one that flew low over us, he was heading for battleship row and I could see the pilot, and he had a white scarf around his neck and on the back was a big red ball," Kondas said.

George survived the attack but then, four decades later, he was gearing up for another battle.

"They told me something was spotted on my lung they wanted to take a closer look and came back and said you've got a tumor," Kondas said.

He lost a lung, but kept his life. As if he hadn't already faced enough, a few years later, George received another devastating diagnosis. He had prostate cancer. Forty-two rounds of radiation later, George was once again a survivor.

"I don't know how I'm still around today at 96 years old, but here I am. Somebody is looking after me," Kondas said.

Surrounded by the support of loved ones and complete strangers, Kondas was honored for his service by Moffitt Cancer Center, the place that helped him beat the deadly disease.

Kondas said the simple "thank you's" carry the most meaning.

"Oh yeah, to show that appreciation and gratitude I feel very blessed and very honored," Kondas said.

He said he's honored by the recognition and hopes the world will never forget. Friday's tribute at Moffitt also included a special patriotic performance by the Moffitt choir and Freedom High School's Navy Junior ROTC Color Guard.