Lest We Forget: Pearl Harbor Survivors Gather to Honor Those Who Made Supreme Sacrifice
Eighty years to the day since Japan’s infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 launched the U.S. into World War II, survivors will gather Tuesday to humbly honor those who made the supreme sacrifice.
Some 30 survivors and about 100 other veterans of the war are expected to be in Hawaii for the occasion, remembering a seminal event in American history, as AP reports.
They will observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same minute 183 warplanes from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service began their attack. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro is expected to deliver the keynote address.
The bombing killed more than 2,300 U.S. service personnel. Nearly half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbor.
Herb Elfring, 99, told AP he’s glad to return considering he almost lost his life during the aerial assault.
“It was just plain good to get back and be able to participate in the remembrance of the day,” Elfring told reporters over the weekend.
Pearl Harbor survivor Herb Elfring speaks at a news conference in Hawaii on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard on Dec. 7, 1941.
He recalled Japanese zero planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his Army base at Camp Malakole, a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor.
Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Michigan, said he has returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual memorial ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service.
Several women who helped the war effort by working in factories have come to Hawaii to participate in the remembrance this year.
Mae Krier, who built B-17s and B-29s at a Boeing plant in Seattle, said she was proud to be there to represent those who went before.
“And we fought together as far as I’m concerned. But it took so long to honor what us women did. And so of course, I’ve been fighting hard for that, to get our recognition,” said Krier, who is now 95. “But it was so nice they finally started to honor us.”
The American destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, home of the American Pacific Fleet during World War II. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty)
An explosion at the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. Sailors stand amid wreckage watching as the USS Shaw explodes in the center background. The USS Nevada is also visible in the middle background, with her bow headed toward the left. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty)
Another Veteran traveling to Oahu, Hawaii, is World War II Navy Veteran James Golding.
As Breitbart News reported, he will be looking to find the grave of his neighbor who died in the attack.
“Pearl Harbor was the first time America was invaded essentially, it was just unquestionable, and it just, it shouldn’t have been. I really wanted to go right then,” Golding told KCRA.
Soon after the attack, then 14-year-old Golding learned his neighbor Roland “Rolly” Wilson was killed during the Japanese offensive, KCRA reports. While the 94-year-old wanted to serve his country immediately after the events of December 7, 1941, he had to wait until he was of age.
At 17, Golding enlisted in the Navy and was deployed to Panama “where he was a tail gunner on a combat crew in a patrol bomber squadron,” according to KCRA.
In all, 15 of the U.S.’s highest awards for valor were awarded for actions that day, 10 posthumously, for distinguished conduct in the face of the enemy.
This year’s ceremony takes place as a strong storm packing high winds and extremely heavy rains hits Hawaii, flooding roads and downing power lines.
Navy spokesperson Brenda Way told the Associated Press in an email Monday that she has heard of no discussion of canceling the event because of the storms.