Associated Press
Rescue workers evacuate the Lunalilo High School in Honolulu after the roof of the main building was hit by a bomb on Dec. 7, 1941.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A few dozen graying Pearl Harbor survivors observed a moment of silence on Friday in honor of their comrades who perished in the Japanese bombing of Oahu 66 years ago.

Wearing aloha shirts and orchid flower lei, the veterans stood on a pier overlooking the sunken hull of the USS Arizona and saluted the flag as a sailor sang "The Star Spangled Banner."

Survivors of each of the nine battleships bombed in the attack took turns setting wreaths before life preservers bearing the names of their ships.

"We're honoring the people who were killed. We're not here for ourselves, we're here for them," said George A. Smith, 83, who was on board the USS Oklahoma the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

Overall, 2,388 Americans died in the attacks, including some 900 still entombed in the Arizona.

Hawaii Air National Guard helicopters flew over the harbor in "missing man" formation in honor of those lost. B-2 stealth bombers currently deployed to Guam from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri performed an additional flyby.

The crowd of about 2,000 honored the survivors with a standing ovation and several minutes of loud applause.

Smith, of Olympia, Wash., was standing watch on the Oklahoma when he saw planes darting through the sky over the harbor.

"One plane came in, circled, came right down to us. The guy opened the hatch to his plane and dropped his torpedo, waved at me and took off," Smith said. "The next thing I knew there was a big explosion."

He was able to jump overboard, just avoiding being squashed by the capsizing battleship, and then swam ashore.

Smith was among 18 survivors of the Oklahoma who came to Hawaii to help dedicate a new memorial to the vessel after the main ceremony. The Oklahoma lost 429 sailors and Marines — more than any battleship in the harbor except the Arizona.

Also Friday, Vice President Dick Cheney used a speech at a Kansas City, Mo., military museum on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack to criticize Congress for its "irresponsible" approach to war funding.

"Some members of Congress, in an effort to undermine the mission in Iraq, have decided to stop supporting the soldiers themselves," Cheney told a gathering of military personnel at the National World War I Museum.

The audience of about 200 included members of the Kansas City-based Veterans of Foreign Wars.