PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – Nearly 500 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were here Thursday to honor those who died in the surprise attack 65 years ago.
Many veterans were treating the gathering as their last, uncertain whether they would be alive or healthy enough to travel to Hawaii for the next big memoria, the 70th anniversary, in five years.
“Sixty-five years later, there’s not too many of us left,” said Don Stratton, a seaman 1st class who was aboard the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. “In another five years I’ll be 89. The good Lord willing, I might be able to make it. If so, I’ll probably be here. I might not even be around. Who knows. Only the good Lord knows.”
Survivors, family members and others gathered for the commemoration were to observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m. local time, the minute planes began bombing Pearl Harbor 65 years ago.
A priest was to give a Hawaiian blessing and Marines will perform a rifle salute.
Stratton and other survivors were to board a boat to the white memorial straddling the sunken hull of the Arizona, where they will lay wreaths and lei in honor of the dead.
The Arizona sank in less than nine minutes after a 1,760 pound armor-piercing bomb struck the battleship’s deck and hit its ammunition magazine, igniting flames that engulfed the ship.