Neal Pollard

Dean Derrow was one of 1,178 listed as wounded during the attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened on this date in 1941.  He was a fire control man who served about the USS West Virginia.  That ship was blasted by five torpedoes and two bombs, and Darrow was blown into the water by the blast.  There, unconscious, he was rescued by personnel from the USS Solace, a navy hospital ship.  As he was being transported by motor launch to the Solace, a Japanese plane started strafing the boat.  Finally, the servicemen made it to the hospital ship where Derrow was examined and judged fit to return to duty.  He set out with others on the USS Porter, which set out for Midway and Christmas Islands. Derrow passed out while swimming and slept for ten days in sick bay.  He went back to the Solace and had his appendix removed on February 24th.  But it was what was discovered in March, 1942, that almost defies belief.  Herb Louden, a Navy corpsman on the Solace, wrote, “Then finally, March 7th, 1942, an X-ray technician by the name of Robert Rule found a 7.7 MM 1 1/2″ long bullet lodged in Derrow’s heart, three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It became obvious that when he was pulled into the rescue boat a bullet from the strafing Japanese fighter plane had struck his back, penetrated his lung and the back muscle of his heart, stopping before popping out the front” (

What an incredible story of survival.  How blessed Derrow was for the fortuitous outcome.  So many other amazing things happened in this story.  Alice, the nurse who took care of him, married him and they enjoyed 50 years of married life in California. Louden, who told the story and helped pull him out of the water, conducted his funeral on January 4, 1992.

As we honor these heroes who faced such terrifying odds as teenagers and young men, I find something significant about this incident.  Derrow went 132 days with a bullet lodged in his heart.  He apparently did not know it or feel it, but that did not make it any less serious and life-threatening.  If that object had not been removed, Derrow would likely have died.

Satan shoots his fiery darts at us, trying to destroy us!  The stakes are eternally high.  He aims at the heart, which controls and influences all we do and who we are.  If we are not careful, we can allow him to hit us there and wound us.  We will show symptoms, but we may be able to function despite the serious danger to our hearts.  We must allow the Great Physician to help us remove any object from our hearts that threatens our spiritual lives!


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