Pearl Harbor ceremony to honor those killed in 1941 attack

Smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks
Smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Pearl Harbor survivors from attending an annual ceremony to remember those killed in the 1941 attack.
(Associated Press)

Officials were scheduled to gather in Pearl Harbor on Monday to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack, though public health measures adopted because of the COVID-19 pandemic mean no survivors will be present.

The military will broadcast video of the ceremony live online for survivors and members of the public to watch remotely.

“I think it’s too bad, but it’s for safety reasons,” said Warren Upton, a 101-year-old who served on the USS Utah. He plans to watch the event from his home in San Jose.


A moment of silence is scheduled to be held at 7:55 a.m., the same time the attack began 79 years ago. Aircraft will fly above the harbor in missing man formation immediately afterward.

Also during the ceremony, sailors aboard a Navy guided missile destroyer will pass by the USS Arizona with its sailors standing along the rails to honor the sunken battleship. The Arizona remains in the same spot where it sank in 1941 after being hit by two bombs. More than 900 sailors and Marines remain entombed on board.

Altogether more than 2,300 U.S. troops died in the attack.

Upton was getting ready to shave when he felt the first torpedo hitting the Utah. No one on board knew what caused the ship to shake. Then, the second torpedo hit and the ship began to list and capsize.

Upton swam ashore to Ford Island, where he jumped in a trench to avoid strafing planes. He sought refuge there for about 30 minutes until a truck came and took him to safety.

Upton said he doesn’t mind talking about that day. What upsets him more is losing shipmates over the years. He said only three crew members of the Utah are still alive, including himself.