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Indiana man survives Pearl Harbor attack and bout with COVID-19

Robert Bates on road to recovery
Bates, Robert.jpg
Posted at 4:12 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 16:15:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Bates is a survivor. In not one, but two big ways.

He survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and 79-years later, he's made it through COVID-19.

As a young man on December 7, 1941, Bates was an airplane mechanic in Hawaii and one of just three men from his company who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.

Now in his 90's, Bates tested positive for COVID-19 and spent weeks at the Indianapolis VA hospital battling double pneumonia.

Bates continues his recovery at American Village. According to Director of Nursing, Ashley Collins, “Robert has never given up his fight and he is getting stronger every day.”

Collins and Bates are described as close friends. As Bates' CARE Companion, Collins regularly joins him for breakfast where they often talk about Colts football, their shared passion. Returning to American Village after his COVID-19 battle, Robert had lost both weight and strength but is said to be making wood progress.

After the war, Bates came home to Indiana, raised his family and worked for the U.S. Postal Service. He first came to American Village, part of American Senior Communities, in 2011 for rehabilitation and he returned in 2015 as a long-term care resident.

Under the guidance of occupational and speech therapists, Bates is regaining his appetite and working on his mobility. He’s affectionately referred to as "Paw Paw" by those closest to him. When asked how he’s survived his recent bout with COVID-19, Bates said, “God and the love of my family keep me going every day. Life is a blessing and I still have some living to do!”