Pearl Harbor veterans honored on 71st anniversary of attack
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
OGDEN — As World War II passes further into history, those who survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor are dwindling in number.
"We don't want to let a year go by, as long as there are any Pearl Harbor survivors, that we don't recognize them and their families for their brave service," said Terry Schow, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.
Friday marked the 71st anniversary of the bombing, and the department held a ceremony at George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home.
Three of the seven known surviving Pearl Harbor veterans who live in Utah — Victor Bradley, Marion Kesler and Glen Allgood — attended the lunch that featured retired Navy Rear Adm. Jeremy Taylor as the main speaker.
"This day is for those who didn't make it. … And so we are to honor those who perished in this infamous attack on our forces at Pearl Harbor," Taylor said.
"These guys who are the Pearl Harbor survivors, they had to go on and fight and win the war," he said. "And so they had to make extra, extra sacrifices on top."
Bradley, who retired as a chief electrician, said he was taking a shower when the alarm was raised on Dec. 7, 1941.
"The alarm went off, and we grabbed what clothes that we could," he said, "and I had to run half the length of the ship to get to my battle station."
Bradley said his ship wasn't hit, but because they were preparing to go into dry dock the next day, they didn't have enough fuel to leave Pearl Harbor.
"But we waited to take the ammunition off on Monday," he said. "It was a lucky day."
Allgood, whose ship also didn't take any hits during the attack, said it was something that changed him.
"They didn't want to bother our ship," he said. "Ours was a supply ship. To look out the portholes and seeing the bombs falling down on them, it's just done something to me."
At Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, more than 2,000 people marked the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack Friday that killed thousands of people and launched the United States into World War II.
The USS Michael Murphy, a recently christened ship named after a Pearl Harbor-based Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan, sounded its ship's whistle to start a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the exact time the bombing began in 1941.
Crew members lined the edge of the Navy guided-missile destroyer in the harbor where the USS Arizona and USS Utah, battleships that sank in the attack, still lie. Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 fighter jets flew overhead in a special "missing man" formation to break the silence.
"Let us remember that this is where it all began," Rhea Suh, Interior Department assistant secretary, told the crowd. "Let us remember that the arc of history was bent at this place 71 years ago today and a generation of young men and women reached deep and rose up to lead our nation to victory. Let us remember and be forever grateful for all of their sacrifices."
About 30 survivors, many using walkers and canes, attended the commemoration.
Edwin Schuler, of San Jose, Calif., said he remembered going up to the bridge of his ship, the USS Phoenix, to read a book on a bright, sunny Sunday morning in 1941 when he saw planes dropping bombs.
"I thought: 'Whoa, they're using big practice bombs.' I didn't know," said Schuler, 91.
Schuler said he's returned for the annual ceremony about 30 times because it's important to spread the message of remembering Pearl Harbor.
Online, Pearl Harbor became a popular topic on Facebook and other social networks, trending worldwide on Twitter and Google Plus as people marked the anniversary with status updates, personal stories of family and photos.
President Barack Obama marked the day Thursday by issuing a presidential proclamation, calling for flags to fly at half-staff Friday and asking all Americans to observe the day of remembrance and honor military service members and veterans.
"Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu," Obama said in a statement. "As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright — whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free."
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