Pearl Har­bor sur­vivors gather to honor those lost 77 years ago

Ad­mi­ral says na­tion can never for­get

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By AU­DREy MCAVOy

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 on Dec .7,1941.

John Mathrursse was an 18- year- old 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.

Mathrusse, who trav­eled to Hawaii for the event from Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, re­mem­bers car­ry­ing in­jured peo­ple to the mess hall and

set­ting them on mat­tresses grabbed from the bar­racks above.

Robert Fer­nan­dez, who was as­signed to the USS Cur­tiss, re­calls be­ing pet­ri­fied.

“I was kind of ner­vous too. I was scared. I was 17. I went to go see the world. What did I get into? A war,” he said.

The 94- year- old from Stock­ton, Cal­i­for­nia, re­turns for the an­nual re­mem­brance each year be­cause he’s now alone af­ter his wife died four years ago.

Adm. Phil Davidson, com­man­der of the U. S. Indo- Pa­cific Com­mand, said the na­tion can never for­get the heavy price paid on that day. He cited 21 ves­sels dam­aged or sunk, 170 planes de­stroyed, 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 are de­clin­ing in num­ber as they push well into their 90s, and 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, who is 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 sunken hull of the bat­tle­ship at the bot­tom of the har­bor.

AS­SO­Ci­AtEd PrESS

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

AS­So­CI­aTeD preSS

The USS Michael Mur­phy passes by the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial on Fri­day in Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, dur­ing a cer­e­mony mark­ing the 77th an­niver­sary of the Ja­panese at­tack.

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