Somber ceremony recalls those killed in Pearl Harbor attack

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — More than 2,000 people attended a ceremony Saturday to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor 78 years ago and launched the U.S. into World War II.

Organizers of the public event at the Hawaii naval base say attendees included about a dozen survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, the youngest of whom are now in their late 90s.

Herb Elfring, 97, of Jackson, Michigan, said being back at Pearl Harbor reminds him of all those who have lost their lives.

“It makes you think of all the servicemen who have passed ahead of me. As a Pearl Harbor survivor, I’m one of the last chosen few I guess.” He’s the only member of his old regiment still living.

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard. The unit’s job was to protect airfields but they weren’t expecting an attack that morning.

Elfring was standing at the edge of his barracks at Camp Malakole a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor, reading a bulletin board when Japanese Zero planes flew over. “I could hear it coming but didn’t pay attention to it until the strafing bullets were hitting the pavement about 15 feet away from me,” he said.

A moment of silence was held at 7:55 a.m., the same minute the assault began. U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jets flying overhead in missing man formation broke the quiet.

Retired Navy Adm. Harry Harris, currently the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, was scheduled to deliver remarks, along with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

The ceremony comes on the heels of two deadly shootings at Navy bases this week, one at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and another at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

A Pearl Harbor National Memorial spokesman said security was beefed up as usual for the annual event.

The 1941 aerial assault killed more than 2,300 U.S. troops. Nearly half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbour. The vessel sank within nine minutes of being hit, taking most of its crew down with it.

Lou Conter, 98, was the only survivor from the USS Arizona to make it to this year’s ceremony. Two other survivors are still living. Conter was sick last year and couldn’t come. He said he likes to attend to remember those who lost their lives.

“It’s always good to come back and pay respect to them and give them the top honours that they deserve,” Conter said.

Conter said his doctor has vowed to keep him well until he’s 100 so he can return for the 80th anniversary.

The USS Arizona still rests in the harbour today and is a grave for more than 900 men killed in the attack. Each year, nearly 2 million people visit the white memorial structure built above the ship.

An internment ceremony is scheduled to be held at sunset on the memorial for one of the Arizona’s sailors who survived the attack, Lauren Bruner. He died earlier this year at age 98.

Bruner asked that an urn with his ashes be placed inside the Arizona’s sunken hull upon his death. His ashes will join the remains of 44 shipmates who managed to live through the attack but wanted to be laid to rest in the ship. Bruner explained before he died that he preferred being interred in the Arizona so he could join his buddies and because of the memorial’s high number of visitors.

Bruner is expected to be the last Arizona crew member to be interred on the ship. The three Arizona survivors still living plan to be laid to rest with their families.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP investigating violence at anti-racism protest in Red Deer

Peaceful protest turned violent Sunday: Justice Minister

Boys and Girls Club haunted house cancelled

Popular spookfest postponed because of pandemic health restrictions

Demand at Catholic Social Services jumps during pandemic

Provincial fundraising campaign launched

Driver clocked at 205 km/h on Highway 2 near Innisfail

21-year-old B.C. driver has automatic court date after Sept. 15 speeding

Red Deer gets $50 million from feds, province to keep people working

More paving projects are planned for next summer

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Survey finds most Canadian Olympic athletes against medal podium protests

Nearly 80 per cent of athletes want to keep protests off the field

Canadians Ghislaine Landry, Britt Benn named to rugby sevens Dream Team

Landry is the all-time leading scorer on the women’s sevens circuit

Kevin Hart inks new multi-platform deal with SiriusXM

New programs to provide more ‘real, raw and authentic conversations’

‘Monkey Beach’ film brings beloved Haisla novel to life with ‘magical realism’

Film set to premier as opening film at Vancouver International Film Festival

Bryson DeChambeau blasts way to U.S. Open title

Bryson DeChambeau blasts way to U.S. Open title

DeChambeau carves up US Open one divot-sized slice at a time

DeChambeau carves up US Open one divot-sized slice at a time

Calgary wants to be a World Cup freestyle, snowboard hub city

Calgary wants to be a World Cup freestyle, snowboard hub city

Forge FC downs HFX Wanderers in Canadian Premier League championship game

Forge FC downs HFX Wanderers in Canadian Premier League championship game

Most Read