Pearl Harbor veterans return to Hawaii for 81st anniversary

There is a decreasing number of survivors as they age. The youngest active duty soldier on December 7, 1941, will be about 17 years old, they are now 98 years old.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A handful of hundred-year-old survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack joined some 2,500 members of the public at the scene of Wednesday’s Japanese bombing in memory of those who lost their lives. network 81 years ago.

The audience sat in silence for a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same time the attack began on December 7, 1941.

Sailors aboard the USS Daniel Inouye stood along the tracks of the guided-missile destroyer as it passed both the grassy coast where the ceremony was held and the USS Arizona Memorial to honor survivors and those killed in the attack. Ken Stevens, a 100-year-old survivor from the USS Whitney, returned the greeting.

Tom Leatherman said: “The eternal legacy of Pearl Harbor will be shared at this site forever, as we must never forget our predecessors so we can chart a path of peace and justice. more equal for followers,” said Tom Leatherman. director of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

About 2,400 service members were killed in the bombing that brought the United States into World War II. The USS Arizona alone lost 1,177 sailors and marines, nearly half of the deaths. Most of Arizona’s fallen are still buried in the ship that lies on the harbor deck.

Ira Schab, 102 years old, was on board the USS Dobbin as a tuba player in the ship’s band. He recalled seeing Japanese planes flying overhead and wondering what to do.

“We have nowhere to go and hopefully they will miss us,” he said before the ceremony began.

He reloaded the machine gunners on the ship without getting hit.

He has now attended the memorial service four times.

“I won’t miss it because I have a lot of friends who are still here and are buried here. I came back out of respect for them,” he said.

Schab remained in the Navy during the war. After the war, he studied aerospace engineering and worked on the Apollo program. Today he lives in Portland, Oregon.

He wants people to remember those who served that day.

“Remember what they are here for. Remember and honor the rest. They did a wonderful job. Those who are still here, dead or alive,” he said.

Only six survivors attended, fewer than a dozen or more who have traveled to Hawaii from around the country for the annual memorial service in recent years.

Part of the decline reflects the declining number of survivors as they age. The youngest active duty soldier on December 7, 1941, will be about 17 years old, they are now 98 years old. Many of those alive are at least 100.

Herb Elfring, 100, or Jackson, Michigan, said it was great that so many residents were interested in the celebration and attended the ceremony.

“A lot of people don’t even know where Pearl Harbor is or what happened that day,” he said.

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery Force, part of the California National Guard. He remembers hearing bombs go off a few miles off the coast of Pearl Harbor, but thought it was part of an exercise.

But then he saw a red ball on the fuselage of the Japanese Zero fighter as it flew across the ground near him near his barracks at Camp Malakole.

“It was a rude awakening,” he said. He said one soldier in his unit was wounded by bullets, but no one was killed.

Robert John Lee recalls being a 20-year-old civilian living at his parents’ home on the naval base, where his father operated a water pumping station. The house was only about a mile (1.6 km) from the harbor where the USS Arizona was moored aboard the battleships.

The first bangs before 8 a.m. woke him up, making him think a door was slamming in the wind. He got up to scream for someone to close the door only to look out the window of a Japanese plane dropping torpedo bombs from the sky.

He saw the hull of the USS Arizona turn a deep orange-red after an aerial bomb hit it.

“Within a few seconds, that explosion then went off with huge blades of fire flying straight up above the ship itself — but at hundreds of feet,” Lee said in an interview Monday after the tour. Boat tour around the harbour.

He still remembered the sizzling sound of the fire.

The sailors jumped into the water to escape their burning ship and swam to the dock near Lee’s house. Many were covered by the thick and heavy oil that covered the harbor. Lee and his mother used Fels-Naptha soap to help wash them off. Sailors could board small boats that took them back to their ships.

“I think very heroic,” Lee said of them.

Lee joined the Hawaiian Territorial Guard the next day, and then the United States Navy. He worked for Pan American World Airways for 30 years after the war.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs does not have statistics on how many Pearl Harbor victims are still alive. But department data shows that of the 16 million people who served in World War Two, only about 240,000 were alive as of August, and about 230 died every day.

There were about 87,000 troops in Oahu at the time of the attack, according to a rough estimate by military historian J. Michael Wenger. Pearl Harbor veterans return to Hawaii for 81st anniversary

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