Fewer Pearl Harbor Attack Survivors Expected to Attend 77th Anniversary

The battleship USS West Virginia engulfed in flames and smoke during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Photo via the Department of Veterans Affairs
The battleship USS West Virginia engulfed in flames and smoke during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Photo via the Department of Veterans Affairs

The 77th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor will see a steadfast observance by the Navy and National Park Service as the day of infamy's eyewitnesses become less and less capable of carrying the torch themselves.

Only about 34 World War II and Pearl Harbor survivors -- now in their 90s -- are expected for the 7:50 a.m. ceremony this Dec. 7 remembering the sleepy Sunday morning when Japanese bombs fell from the sky, launching America into World War II.

In the two-hour attack, about 2,455 men, women and children were killed. The total included 2,390 American service members and Oahu civilians, 56 Japanese aviators and up to nine Japanese submariners.

Neal Herbert, a park service spokesman, said about 1,375 chairs -- roughly the same as last year -- will be set out on the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center back lawn for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Oahu, will deliver the keynote speech at the commemoration, whose theme is "Forging the Future" and highlights events in 1943, the second year after the attack.

The United States "rose to face challenges -- both at war and on the home front -- in order to achieve greater peace, freedom, and democracy in the world, including in Japan and in Europe," the park service said in a release.

A moment of silence will be observed at 7:55 a.m., about the time the attack began. A warship will render pass-in-review honors to the USS Arizona and all Pearl Harbor survivors, while a "missing man" flyover will be conducted by Hawaii-based F-22 Raptor fighters.

"Together we (will) remember the events that took place 77 years ago, and honor the actions of brave individuals that continue to affect us today," said Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the Arizona Memorial.

The park service is advising those who want to attend to arrive early. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will open at 6 a.m.

USS Arizona Memorial programs will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with tickets distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 6 a.m. No reserved tickets will be available.

Extensive repairs needed to the dock servicing the memorial put a halt to walk-on visits starting in May, and survivors will not be able to step foot on the memorial this Dec. 7. The dock is not expected to be back in service until at least March.

Four of the Navy launches now used to ferry visitors on a tour of Battleship Row will be utilized for survivors and families to present a floral tribute adjacent to the sunken USS Arizona, a grave for over 900 crew.

More information is available at pearlharborevents.com.

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This article is written by William Cole from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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