Hartvigson Walks In Grandfather’s Footsteps

By Mason Kelley

Michael Hartvigson stood next to a purple and gold wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial. The tight end held his left hand over his right. Behind him, chiseled in stone, were the names of the men killed on the ship during the Dec. 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

As he waited for a photo to be taken, he thought about his grandfather, Arnold. He was stationed on the USS California during the attack. About 20 minutes before torpedoes hit the ship, Arnold was sent to drop someone off on shore.

“If he was on that boat, I might not even be here right now,” Hartvigson said.

He survived the attack and went on to fight in the Battle of Okinawa. Then he returned home to resume a “normal life.”

“It’s just unreal,” Hartvigson said. “He just walked in the back door like it was any other day.”

Arnold died when Hartvigson was in seventh grade, so the senior never spent much time talking to his grandfather about the experience.

“He really didn’t talk about it a lot,” Hartvigson said.

As he paid his respects to those who lost their lives, he thought about the torpedoes and bombs. He thought about Arnold.

“I was getting a mental picture about back in 1941,” Hartvigson said. “It was just an unbelievable experience. I was just trying to put myself in that situation and it’s almost unbelievable to imagine. I was just a really proud grandson.”

The Huskies spent an hour at the memorial, but the images stuck with Hartvigson for the remainder of the trip. As he prepared to take the field at Aloha Stadium for Washington’s season opener against Hawaii, he thought about Arnold. He thought about how fortunate he is to get the opportunity to play Division I football.

“It was just a humbling experience,” said Hartvigson, who had a 20-yard reception in the 17-16 win over the Rainbow Warriors. “I got to be almost in my grandpa’s footsteps, and then I got to play a game and help contribute to a win. I’m just really blessed. It was just an overall awesome experience.

“I felt like my grandpa was with me both on the Arizona and on the field.”

Now on Pac-12 Network
3:00 PM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder