The day Joseph John Borovich bit his dog

The day Joseph John Borovich bit his dog

Joseph John Borovich's name lives on as one of the 1,177 men killed 75 years ago on the U.S.S. Arizona. But years before the Californian joined the Navy, he was the subject of brief fame in newspapers around the country because he bit his dog.

Accounts vary slightly -- perhaps the five-year-old teased the pet too much and "Bepp" bit him, or maybe the dog had stolen eggs from the barnyard. Either way, "Baby Joe," as the family called Borovich, retaliated by biting the dog on the nose. Newspaper editors latched onto the tale as proof of the old journalism saw that "Dog bites man" isn't news, but "Man bites dog" is news indeed. And "Boy bites dog" was even better.

Most of the sailors and Marines killed at Pearl Harbor were so young that they didn't have long lives full of family or career accomplishments. Their obituaries, if published at all, tend to be brief. So it is rewarding to come across anecdotes that give insight into the kind of men they were.

Such is the case with Borovich, who was the subject of a 2004 profile by Martin Cheek in the Gilroy Dispatch. He interviewed Borovich's family for a detailed account that included this information from brother George:

Joe worked on farms around Hollister, Calif. and once while spraying pear trees got pesticide mist in his face. His vision became blurry and when he tried to enlist in the Navy, he was rejected. Even so, he stopped at the recruiting depot every time he drove a load of pears to San Jose. 

One day as he was leaving the office, having failed the eye test yet again, the recruiter called out. "Any man who wants to get into the Navy as badly as you do will get right in!"

Borovich enlisted in the summer of 1940. He was a seaman first class and 21 years old when he died on the Arizona.

All this week TrueTucson.com is blogging about some of the men who died 75 years ago on the Arizona. A public ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday will dedicate a new memorial on the University of Arizona mall. The memorial includes 3-inch brass medallions for each of the 1,177 men and an outline of the deck of the ship in full scale.

For many survivors of the U.S.S. Arizona, the hell of war had just begun

For many survivors of the U.S.S. Arizona, the hell of war had just begun

"Father enlists to avenge sons' deaths at Pearl Harbor"

"Father enlists to avenge sons' deaths at Pearl Harbor"