Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941

U.S. Marks 74th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

With an eye on the immediate aftermath of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of World War II veterans and other observers today commemorated the 67th anniversary of the devastating Japanese military raid.

The theme of the event - "Pacific War Memories: The Heroic Response to Pearl Harbor" - was something of a departure from the past.

Usually, the commemoration focuses on the attack on the USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor and several other installations on Oahu. But this year's remembrance ceremony centered more on the months following the raid, said Eileen Martinez, chief of interpretation for the National Park Service.

"We're moving into the Pacific War, the first strike back," she said.

To that end, one of two keynote speakers were Thomas Griffin, a surviving member of the pilots and crew who answered the Pearl Harbor attack four months later with an aircraft carrier-launched bomber raid on Tokyo.

The B-25 mission, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, inflicted little damage on Japan but boosted morale in America and led the embarrassed Japanese government to launch an ill-fated attack on Midway Island.

The other keynote address was delivered by Admiral Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Sunday's commemoration featured a performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by the U.S. Marine Corps and a recognition of those who survived the attack.

At 7:55 a.m., when the attack began 67 years ago, a moment of silence was observed. The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon will render honors to the USS Arizona, which still lies beneath the harbor with its dead. Almost 2,400 Americans were killed and nearly 1,180 injured when Japanese fighters bombed and sank 12 naval vessels and heavily damaged nine others on Dec. 7, 1941. The Arizona, which sank in less than nine minutes after an armor-piercing bomb breached its deck and exploded in the ship's ammunition magazine, lost 1,177 sailors and marines. About 340 of its crew survived.

Other major installations on Oahu, such as Wheeler Field and Kaneohe Naval Air Station, also were attacked.

This year's ceremony comes weeks after construction began on a new visitor's center for the USS Arizona Memorial. The existing center, which was built 28 years ago on reclaimed land, is sinking. Officials have said it will be unusable in a few years.

This year's event will be held a half-mile away at Kilo Pier of Naval Station Pearl Harbor, the site for next year's commemoration as well. The new visitor's center is scheduled to open Dec. 7, 2010.

Pearl Harbor Survivor Recalls Horrific Attack 67 Years Later

Nearly seven decades have passed since 89-year-old Dallas Harvey witnessed the horrific attack at Pearl Harbor, but the brutal images remain emblazoned in his memory as if not a day had gone by.

In an interview with, Harvey - who was a 21-year-old medic on the USS Argonne repair ship on the day of the attack on Dec. 7, 1941 - spoke of a harbor full of black smoke and chaos aboard the ships. The water was burning, the oil had spilled out from the ships and it looked like the whole harbor was on fire, Harvey said.

Three planes that I recall came over and dropped bombs on the naval air station on a small island in the bay ... the third plane flew over our ship, then I saw the red dots (of the Japanese sun insignia) on the wings, and learned that the attackers were from Japan, Harvey told the Telegraph.

"I was almost positive we would be prisoners by nightfall," Harvey told the Telegraph.

He added that he suppressed many painful memories from the surprise morning attack by the Japanese in Hawaii, including the grim task of unloading hundreds of bodies from the destroyed ships onto the dock.

I blocked that part out until 50 years later, when I went to the 50-year reunion ... I had a total blackout.

Harvey, one of the last living survivors of the attack that killed 2,402 and wounded 1,282, says he bears no ill will toward the Japanese. He retired from the Navy after 30 years of service and lives with his family in Southern Illinois, according to the Telegraph.


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