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Pearl Harbor survivors already looking ahead to 75th anniversary

Veterans of the Dec, 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor talk about their experiences after a ceremony Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, at the USS Arizona Memoriaal. From left are Louis Conter, John Hughes and Ed Schuler.

WYATT OLSON/STARS AND STRIPES

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 7, 2015

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — The survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor cheated death while many of their comrades died that day and in the four years of war that followed.

Now, with the very youngest among them in their early 90s, they have outlived virtually their entire generation, but some who attended Monday’s commemoration ceremonies were already vowing not to miss next year’s milestone 75th anniversary.

Given their traditional honored seating during the annual event at the joint Navy-Air Force base in Hawaii, they were asked to stand up according to their service branch toward the end of the ceremony. The men, mostly sailors, stood slowly but gamely, worn down by age but still proud to have served.

Speaking to an audience of roughly 1,000, U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris Jr. recalled that his father was an enlisted sailor on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which left Pearl Harbor a few days before the attack.

“As you can imagine, growing up I listened to my dad’s stories of duty, honor and courage,” he said.

Harris quoted the “sage advice” in the motto of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association: “Keep America alert” because “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

“Today and for every tomorrow, we owe a debt to the men and women who gave their full measure of devotion on Dec. 7 and throughout World War II,” Harris said. “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds and the legacy they left behind.”

news@stripes.com

World War II veteran Daniel B.T. Lau visits the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial after a ceremony Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii, at the time of the attack, and went on to fight in Europe where he was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.
WYATT OLSON/STARS AND STRIPES

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