A somber remembrance ceremony was held Saturday morning at Pearl Harbor Indicating the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the Hawaii base that Started America into World War II
More than two,000 individuals attended a ceremony Saturday to remember those killed when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor 78 years ago and introduced the U.S. to World War II.
Organizers of this public event in the Hawaii naval base state 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 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 is the only member of the old regiment still alive.
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 were not expecting an attack that afternoon.
Elfring was standing at the edge of his barracks in Camp Malakole several 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 explained.
A moment of silence was held at 7:55 a.m., the exact same minute the attack began. U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jets flying overhead in missing man formation broke the quiet.
Retired Navy Adm. Harry Harris, now the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, was scheduled to deliver opinions, along with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The service comes on the heels of two deadly shootings in Navy bases this week, one in 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 yearly event.
The 1941 aerial attack killed more than two,300 U.S. troops. Almost half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbor. The boat sank within nine minutes of being struck, taking most of its team down with it.
Lou Conter, 98, was the sole survivor from the USS Arizona to make it for this year’s ceremony. Two other survivors are still alive. Conter was sick this past year and could not 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 honors that they deserve,” Conter said.
Conter said his physician has pledged to keep him well until he is 100 so that he could return for the 80th anniversary.
The USS Arizona still rests at the harbor now and is a tomb for over 900 men killed in the assault. Annually, almost 2 million people visit the white memorial structure constructed over the ship.
An internment service is scheduled to be held at sunset on the memorial for one of the Arizona’s sailors who survived the assault, Lauren Bruner. He died earlier this year in the beginning 98.
Bruner asked an urn with his ashes be put within the Arizona’s sunken hull upon his passing. His ashes will combine the remains of 44 shipmates who was able to live through the attack but wished to be laid to rest in the boat. Bruner explained before he died he preferred being interred in the Arizona so he could join his friends and due to the memorial’s high number of people.
Bruner is anticipated to be the final Arizona crew member to be interred on the boat. The three Arizona survivors still living strategy to be laid to rest with their families.