PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Sixty-nine years after Japanese planes attacked Oahu military bases, survivors of the attack plan to gather at Pearl Harbor to remember those killed.
Some 100 survivors, the youngest of whom are in their late 80s, have traveled from around the country to attend Tuesday's ceremony.
Art Herriford, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, recalls watching from his ship, the USS Detroit, as the USS Arizona battleship was hit.
"I was looking directly at the Arizona when she went sky-high. It's still hard to believe that in the time period of the snap of a finger, 1,177 lives could be wiped out," said Herriford, 88, of Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The USS Detroit miraculously escaped the attack virtually unharmed. Two torpedoes missed the light cruiser. Japanese gunfire strafed it from stem to stem, but no one was injured onboard.
"The Detroit was one of the luckiest ships in the Navy," Herriford said.
He spoke after the association voted on Monday to stay in operation for a while longer. The group had considered disbanding as the age of members and officers has made it difficult for them to organize conventions and carry out other duties. But Herriford said members weren't ready "to throw in the towel right away."
Tuesday's remembrance ceremony is being held across the harbor from the USS Arizona, which sank in the attack and where the remains of nearly 1,000 sailors and Marines are still entombed.
The survivors will be welcomed by a new $56 million center for visitors and take a boat out to the memorial that sits on top of the battleship.
The new center has twice the exhibition space as the old one, offering visitors a more thorough view of both Japan and the United States in the years leading up to the attack. The new exhibits also includes video recordings of survivors — both military and civilian — telling their stories.
About 1.6 million people visit the memorial and the center each year.