Re­call­ing day of in­famy 77 years later

Pearl Har­bor sur­vivors honor vic­tims of at­tack

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Au­drey Mcavoy The As­so­ci­ated Press

PEARL HAR­BOR, Hawaii — About 20 sur­vivors gath­ered at Pearl Har­bor on Fri­day to pay trib­ute to the thou­sands of men lost in the Ja­panese at­tack 77 years ago.

They joined dig­ni­taries, ac­tive-duty troops and mem­bers of the pub­lic in ob­serv­ing a mo­ment of si­lence at 7:55 a.m., the time the bomb­ing be­gan Dec. 7, 1941.

John Mathrusse was an 18-yearold sea­man sec­ond class walk­ing out of the chow hall on Ford Is­land to see a friend on the USS West Vir­ginia when the bomb­ing be­gan.

“The guys were get­ting hurt, bombs and shells go­ing off in the wa­ter. I helped the ones that couldn’t swim, who were too badly in­jured or what­ever and helped them to shore,” said Mathrusse, now 95.

Adm. Phil David­son, com­man­der of the U.S. Indo-pa­cific Com­mand, said the na­tion can never for­get the heavy price paid that day. He cited 21 ves­sels dam­aged or sunk, 170 planes de­stroyed and more than 2,400 peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing ser­vice­men and civil­ians.

“De­spite these losses, it did not break the Amer­i­can spirit. In fact, it charged it,” he said in a key­note ad­dress.

The sur­vivors, whose num­bers are de­clin­ing as they push well into their 90s, are in­creas­ingly treated as celebri­ties. They say peo­ple ask for their au­to­graphs and re­quest to take pho­tos and self­ies with them.

“I am given a lot of at­ten­tion and honor. I shake hands con­tin­u­ously,” said Tom Berg, who lives in Port Townsend, Wash­ing­ton. Berg, 96, served on the USS Ten­nessee.

This year, no sur­vivor from the USS Ari­zona at­tended the cer­e­mony as none of the men were able to make the trip to Hawaii.

The Ari­zona sank after two bombs hit the ship, trig­ger­ing tremen­dous ex­plo­sions. The Ari­zona lost 1,177 sailors and Marines, the great­est num­ber of ca­su­al­ties from any ship. Most re­main en­tombed in the hull of the bat­tle­ship at the bot­tom of the har­bor.

Dozens of those killed in the at­tack have been re­cently iden­ti­fied and re­buried in ceme­ter­ies across the coun­try after the mil­i­tary launched a new ef­fort to an­a­lyze bones and DNA of hun­dreds long clas­si­fied as “un­knowns.”

In 2015, 388 sets of re­mains were ex­humed from the USS Ok­la­homa and buried in a na­tional ceme­tery in Honolulu. The Ok­la­homa had the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of dead after the Ari­zona at 429.

The De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency has iden­ti­fied 168 sailors and Marines from the Ok­la­homa since the ex­huma­tions three years ago. It has said it ex­pects to iden­tify about 80 per­cent of the 388 by 2020.

Sev­eral fam­i­lies were sched­uled to re­bury their newly iden­ti­fied loved ones on Fri­day.

Au­drey Mcavoy The As­so­ci­ated Press

Pearl Har­bor sur­vivors salute dur­ing the na­tional an­them at a cer­e­mony in Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, on Fri­day mark­ing the 77th an­niver­sary of the Ja­panese at­tack.

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