Small group of sur­vivors gath­ers at Pearl Har­bor

The State - - News - BY AMYBWANG

Just be­fore 8 a.m. lo­cal time on Dec. 7, 1941, Ja­panese fighter planes shat­tered the Sun­day quiet at Pearl Har­bor in Hawaii. It was an at­tack on the United States that would soon thrust the coun­try into World War II.

De­spite a ra­dio­gram that was ur­gently pushed to all U.S. mil­i­tary in the area (“AIRRAID ON PEARL HAR­BOR X THIS IS NO DRILL”), the sur­prise at­tack de­stroyed or dam­aged more than a dozen Amer­i­can ships and hun­dreds of air­craft.

More than 2,400 Amer­i­cans were killed. But it was the USS Ari­zona that suf­fered the great­est hu­man loss: Of the 1,512 on board at the time, only about 300 sur­vived. The ship it­self rests, sunken, at the bot­tom of the har­bor – along with the re­mains of hun­dreds of vic­tims.

Over the decades, those who were able to es­cape the USS Ari­zona be­fore it sunk have been a fix­ture at memo­ri­als and events mark­ing the at­tack, a day which has in­deed lived in in­famy.

About 20 sur­vivors at­tended this year’s ob­ser­vance at Pearl Har­bor on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports. But, for the first time in more than seven decades, there were no sur­vivors from the USS Ari­zona present when of­fi­cials com­mem­o­rated the 77th an­niver­sary of the at­tack.

There are now only five USS Ari­zona sur­vivors still alive: Lau­ren Bruner, 98, Lou Con­ter, 97, Lon­nie Cook, 98, Ken Potts, 97, and Don Strat­ton, 96. None was able to travel to Oahu this year, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The Ari­zona Repub­lic in 2014 vis­ited all re­main­ing USS Ari­zona sur­vivors – there were nine still alive at the time – and pub­lished ex­ten­sive in­ter­views with the ag­ing vet­er­ans. What emerged were mov­ing sto­ries and re­mem­brances of an at­tack that had al­tered their lives.

Most could still re­call vivid de­tails about that Sun­day morn­ing, though a few, even decades later, could not bring them­selves to talk about their fel­low ship­mates who hadn’t es­caped.

For years, el­derly sur­vivors of the USS Ari­zona faith­fully re­turned to Oahu to par­tic­i­pate in cer­e­monies to re­mem­ber the at­tack.

AUDREY MCAVOY AP

Everett Hy­land, who sur­vived the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, salutes Fri­day as the USS Michael Mur­phy passes.

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