Grand County Middle School teacher Sophia Sopuch (left) and students Bryson Jones, Lydia Taylor, Lily McClish, Brendan Balsley and Zane Maher-Young met with World War II veteran Mel Dalton (third from left) on Wednesday, Dec. 7, seventy-five years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. [Photo courtesy of Joan Cannon]

Seventy-five years to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Grand County Middle School teacher Sophia Sopuch and seventh-grade students from her English class went to visit World War II veteran Mel Dalton at his home.

Sopuch’s class had written thank-you notes for Veterans Day, which were shared with Dalton.

He was so touched by the letters that he wrote a thank-you note back to the students, which prompted GCMS Principal Melinda Snow and Sopuch to meet Dalton and let some of the students hear what

he had to say about the war and where he served.

Students who were chosen to visit Dalton all have family members who have served in the armed forces.

Dalton, along with all 23 of his male classmates, enlisted in the armed forces the day after graduating from the Grand County High School class of 1942. Of those 23, eight of them lost their lives in the war. Only two of those classmates are still alive; Dalton will turn 94 in January.

Dalton served as a Marine on the USS California, a ship stationed in the South Pacific, for three years.

To keep spirits high during the holidays, Dalton said he and his shipmates would create makeshift Christmas trees.

Dalton was an M-22 anti-aircraft gunner on the battleship, shooting high at the airplanes above them. He shared memories of his experiences with the students, including an account of a kamikaze attack that killed 89 soldiers on board his ship.