SALT LAKE CITY — The rotunda in the Utah state Capitol will be the setting on Wednesday for an honor ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.
With survivors in their 90s, the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs is paying extra attention to the anniversary this year because of the likelihood few, if any, Pearl Harbor survivors will be alive when the 80th anniversary comes around, said Craig Morgan, who is helping coordinate the program for the state.
Only four Utahns who are members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in Utah get together regularly: Max Burggraaf, an electricians mate aboard the USS Nevada; Marion Kesler, a mess cook aboard the USS Hulbert; Kenneth Potts, a coxswain aboard the USS Arizona; and Ernal Underwood, a petty officer aboard the USS Helena. All four will be recognized at Wednesday's event.
Some survivors have never formally joined or been recognized by the survivors group, leaving the exact count of survivors in question. Estimates are that Pearl Harbor survivors living in Utah number between 10 and 15.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30 with an Honors to the Nation Cannon Salute by the 1st Battalion of the Utah National Guard's 145th Artillery, set to take place at 11:48 a.m., which corresponds with the 7:48 a.m. beginning of the Japanese air attack, Hawaii time, on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Scheduled speakers are Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, retired Navy rear admiral Jeremy "Bear" Taylor and Terry Schow, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Timpview High School Marching Band will also perform. The band just returned from Oahu where they hosted Burggraaf and Potts and their wives and performed at the Punchbowl Cemetery and other memorial sites near Pearl Harbor.
Retired Navy Capt. Doug Wadsworth will be the master of ceremonies, and the color guard will be from the University of Utah Naval ROTC.