PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — A few dozen elderly men who survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor 74 years ago were gathering Monday at the site to remember fellow servicemen who didn’t make it.
The U.S. Navy and National Park Service hosted a ceremony in remembrance of those killed on Dec. 7, 1941. About 3,000 people were expected to join the survivors.
Robert Irwin, 91, of Cameron Park, California, was in the barracks when the attack began and saw Japanese planes flying overhead. A fellow sailor said to him, “What’s the red ball in the wing, Bob?”
The seaman first class hopped on a truck that took him to the USS Pennsylvania, where he fed ammunition to the deck of the battleship.
“It brings back some lousy memories,” said Irwin, of returning to Pearl Harbor. But he comes to the annual ceremony because the attack was “a big thing in my life.” Irwin served as firefighter in San Francisco after the war and retired in as a lieutenant in 1979.
The event is being held on a Navy pier overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial. It straddles the battleship which sank nine minutes after being hit. It remains a gravesite for many of those killed.
The Navy destroyer USS Preble was to sound its whistle to start a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the attack began 74 years ago. Hawaii Air National Guard F-22s would fly overhead to break the moment of silence.
Roughly 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on the island of Oahu in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.
Pear Harbor Memorial