Survivors honor Pearl Harbor victims with moment of silence, wreath laying in Hawaii
Thursday, December 7th 2006, 1:13 pm
By: News On 6
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) _ Nearly 500 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor bowed their heads for a moment of silence Thursday to remember those who died in the surprise attack 65 years ago that pulled the United States into World War II.
The survivors, among several thousand others, including relatives and military leaders, bowed their heads at 7:55 a.m., the minute planes began bombing Pearl Harbor.
``We thank those who lost their lives 65 years ago, and we honor the survivors and their families who are with us here today,'' said Gov. Linda Lingle.
Many veterans were treating the gathering as their last, uncertain whether they would be alive or healthy enough to travel to Hawaii for the next big memorial, the 70th anniversary.
``Sixty-five years later, there's not too many of us left,'' said Don Stratton, a seaman 1st class who was aboard the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. ``In another five years I'll be 89. The good Lord willing, I might be able to make it.''
Stratton and other survivors were to board a boat to the white memorial straddling the sunken hull of the Arizona, where they will lay wreaths and lei in honor of the dead.
The Arizona sank in less than nine minutes after a 1,760 pound armor-piercing bomb struck the battleship's deck and hit its ammunition magazine, exploding in flames that engulfed the ship.
More people died on the Arizona than any other ship _ 1,177 servicemen, or about 80 percent of the crew, perished.
Altogether, the surprise attack killed 2,390 Americans and injured 1,178.
Twelve ships sank and nine vessels were heavily damaged. Over 320 U.S. aircraft were destroyed or heavily damaged by the time the invading planes were done sweeping over military bases from Wheeler Field to Kaneohe Naval Air Station.
Japanese veterans who participated in the attack as navigators and pilots will also pay their respects, offering flowers at the Arizona memorial for the American and Japanese who died.
Some Japanese veterans and American survivors have reconciled over the decades.
Japanese dive bomber pilot Zenji Abe apologized to American survivors for the sudden attack, saying he was ashamed his government failed to deliver a declaration of war in time for the assault.
The Japanese aviators who carried out the attack thought the declaration had already been made by the time they started bombing, Abe said.