On 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack, survivors gather to remember those lost

A veteran stands with the military color guard before the Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremony
A veteran stands with the military color guard before the Pearl Harbor 80th anniversary ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — A few dozen survivors of Pearl Harbor gathered Tuesday at the site of the Japanese bombing 80 years ago to remember those killed in the attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.

Herb Elfring, 99, said he’s glad to return to Pearl Harbor considering he almost didn’t live through 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.

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.

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A veteran attends the  Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
A veteran attends the anniversary ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)

Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Mich., said he has returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service.

About 30 survivors and about 100 other veterans of the war joined him this year.

They observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same minute the attack began decades ago. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro is expected to deliver the keynote speech.

The bombing killed more than 2,300 U.S. troops. Nearly half — or 1,177 — were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbor.

Marines fire a rifle salute at the Pearl Harbor  80th anniversary ceremony
Marines fire a salute at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
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Several women who helped the war effort by working in factories traveled 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 it took the world a while to credit women for their work.

“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.”

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 heard of no discussion of canceling the event because of the storms.

Veteran Wallace A. Johnson attends the ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Veteran Wallace A. Johnson attends the ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
A Navy sailor plays taps at the  ceremony
A Navy sailor plays taps.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
The USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs on Dec. 7, 1941.
The USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs on Dec. 7, 1941.
(Associated Press)
The USS Chung Hoon passes  the USS Arizona Memorial during the anniversary ceremony
The USS Chung Hoon passes the USS Arizona Memorial during the ceremony.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
WWII veteran Fannie Griffin McClendon, left,  and Erlinda Gallegos.
WWII veteran Fannie Griffin McClendon, left, a member of the African American Women’s Army Corps, and Erlinda Gallegos, an original Rosie the Riveter, chat Tuesday at a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony at the USS Arizona Anchor Memorial in Phoenix.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)
Pearl Harbor survivor and World War II Navy veteran David Russell, 101, of Albany, N.Y.
Pearl Harbor survivor and World War II Navy veteran David Russell, 101, of Albany, N.Y., shows off his commemorative bag to two military personnel before the ceremony.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
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President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the National World War II Memorial
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the National World War II Memorial on Tuesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)