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Nation marks 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Audrey Mcavoy

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 1:56 a.m. MST

Carissa Westfall traveled to Hawaii to mark the anniversary as part of a college program that paired students and veterans traveling to important battle sites. The veteran she was with, Guy Piper, was brushing his teeth on Ford Island when he saw bombs falling from Japanese planes.

"Honestly, before this trip I never realized. I didn't know — I didn't think that there were guys my age and younger watching their friends die right next to them," said Westfall, a sophomore at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Also this week, ash-scattering and interment ceremonies are being held for five survivors whose cremated remains are returning to Pearl Harbor after their deaths.

On Tuesday, an urn containing the ashes of Lee Soucy was placed on his battleship, the USS Utah. The ashes of Vernon Olsen, who was on the Arizona, were to be placed on his ship later Wednesday.

The U.S. lost 12 vessels that day, but the Arizona and the Utah are the only ones still sitting in the harbor.

The ashes of three other survivors will be scattered in the water in separate ceremonies this week.

USS Utah survivor Gilbert Meyer said he comes back each year to see his shipmates entombed in the battleship that rests not far from where it sank off Ford Island.

Meyer, 88, recalled his ship rolling over after being hit by a torpedo and seeing Japanese planes dropping bombs. When the planes began showering his ship with machine-gun fire, he knew it was time to move.

"That really got my attention, so I got in the water and swam ashore," he said.

In Phoenix, Kristy Henderson of Glendale, Ariz., whose two grandfathers served in World War II, did the walk with her mother and two children, ages 2 and 1.

She said the youngest are the most likely to forget Pearl Harbor.

"As time goes on," Henderson said, "I don't think it's brought up as much."

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