Mark grew up in L.A.'s El Sereno and Lincoln Heights neighborhoods, the son of Russian immigrants who ran a small grocery store. A teenager during the Great Depression, he sold newspapers, washed dishes and cleaned a butcher shop where he was paid in pork chops and lunchmeat.
He volunteered for the Navy at 17 and was trained to repair bombsights. His squadron arrived at Pearl Harbor in 1941, the day after Halloween.
Perrault had been in Hawaii since the summer. Raised in Monticello, Minn., a town that was all of six square miles, he joined the Navy after two years of college and found himself aboard the Phoenix with 900 men.
"Now that I look back on it, it was quite a shock," Perrault said. "I thought I was kind of a big shot in town and when I got out, why, I was going to do big things. But nobody really knew me or cared."
Oahu offered white sand, brilliant sunsets and a sense of safety. Days were spent patrolling peaceful waters, checking equipment and undergoing training. Perrault was at sea, in charge of the starboard aircraft gun. On land, Mark repaired and maintained bombsights and instructed others in their use.
Off-duty officers swam off the beach alongside Waikiki, played volleyball and went sightseeing. At night, the harbor twinkled with the deck lights of dozens of ships. On Dec. 6, 1941, Perrault attended a shipboard screening of the Bette Davis film "The Little Foxes." He was eager to sleep in the next day.
The first boom came just before 8 a.m. Running outside the hangar, Mark was greeted by a fighter plane emblazoned with scarlet circles -- the unmistakable emblem of Imperial Japan, Land of the Rising Sun.
His heart hammered as he dodged gunfire and dashed back inside. Wave after wave of Japanese planes dropped torpedoes into suddenly roiling waters. When dive bombers attacked the battleship Nevada, Mark watched bodies hurtle through the air. A detonation at a nearby dock threw him into lockers. "Oh, my God, we're at war," he said.
He joined a group of mechanics pushing planes out of burning hangars, then climbed into a loft to fling metal barrels filled with gas masks to the ground.
About a mile away, Perrault sat high in the Phoenix, sickened by the panorama of fire and destruction.
A voice on the loudspeaker instructed the crew to man their battle stations. "This is not a drill!" someone barked.
Because his gun required coordinates and altitudes to operate and was not designed to target dive bombers, Perrault could do little but watch ships sink and smoke rise. Below him, the water was littered with death.
After three relentless hours, the enemy disappeared. Ford Island kicked into gear as officers cleaned and assembled machine guns, preparing for a reengagement that would never materialize. Over the next few days, equipment was salvaged, ashes were swept, bodies were gathered, losses were counted.
Perrault and Mark would later call it an incomprehensible experience, too chaotic to be terrifying.
A half-century has passed since their paths converged in Monrovia. Perrault was working in sales for a Pasadena laundry service. Mark was on the verge of starting his own electrical business in Los Angeles.
Now they spend most days at home, slowed by age and congestive heart failure. Perrault is legally blind, has a pacemaker and wears two hearing aids. Mark suffered a heart attack three years ago. They speak of the war only when asked and are quick to quash any illusions to bravery or heroism. They are survivors, they say, nothing more.
It was all a matter of chance--the same force that would lead them to modest homes that sit side by side on a quiet street.