SURVIVORS' TWILIGHT REUNION
350 survivors expected at 65th Pearl anniversary
NBC anchor and author Tom Brokaw will give the keynote address on a ceremony-packed day
NEARLY 350 servicemen who survived the Japanese attack on the Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor 65 years ago are expected next month to attend what will probably be their last major reunion.
Many of these survivors are in their 80s, and National Park Service historian Daniel Martinez believes that too few of them may be able to travel to attend the next reunion here in 2011.
The reunion of the Pearl Harbors Survivors will be held Dec. 4-7 at the Ala Moana Hotel. Eight of the 350 survivors attending this year's reunion served on the battleship USS Arizona, which still lies in the harbor. They will be joined by 1,100 family members, friends and associates.
For the second year in a row, the Navy and the National Park Service will hold a joint memorial service at 7:40 a.m. Dec. 7 for the 2,390 U.S. military and civilians killed. It will be at Pearl Harbor's Kilo pier, which faces the white memorial straddling the battleship USS Arizona off Ford island.
Tom Brokaw, former NBC news anchor and author, will deliver the keynote address. Other speakers will include Gov. Linda Lingle; Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne; Adm. Gary Roughead, Pacific Fleet commander; and Ronald Sugar, chairman and chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman.
Pearl Harbor survivors and key military and civilian leaders will be allowed to visit the memorial once the 90-minute service is over. They will take gray shuttle boats to the assembly room of the memorial, which was dedicated in 1962 to the 1,177 crew members of the Arizona who remain entombed in the sunken warship.
Following years of tradition, the 65th memorial service will begin on Dec. 7 with a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., when the attack began. It will be followed by a salute from a Pearl Harbor-based destroyer, which will cruise past the memorial with its crew decked out in dress whites.
A flyover by Hawaii Air National Guard F-15 jet fighters will conclude the ceremony.
Other commemorative ceremonies that day are generally held at Hickam Air Force Base to pay tribute to the 189 men who were killed there during the Japanese attack and at Kaneohe Bay to honor the 18 sailors and one civilian killed during the attack.
Historian Martinez has compared the 65th reunion to the 1938 meeting of veterans of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pa.
Martinez said when the 1938 Gettysburg reunion was held, there was the threat of war. Developments in Germany and Japan were already beginning to endanger peace in Europe and Asia. A few years later, on Dec. 7, 1941, the Pearl Harbor raid would sweep America into World War II, he said.
The 65th reunion at Pearl Harbor comes as the United States is "facing an uncertain future in a world gripped by conflict," Martinez said.
There are other parallels, too, he added. "Even the numbers of survivors and participants at this year's ceremonies will be similar to those of the Gettysburg commemoration."
There are several other commemoration ceremonies on Dec. 7, including the groundbreaking ceremony for a memorial for the battleship USS Oklahoma that will take place on Ford Island at 12:30 p.m. The Oklahoma was berthed along Ford Island on Dec. 7, 1941, and suffered the second greatest loss of life during the attack.
Also on Dec. 7 at 11:30 a.m. on Ford island will be the opening of the Pacific Aviation Museum. The public is invited to the ceremony, featuring guest speakers test pilot Chuck Yeager and astronaut Wally Schirra.
Symposium on Pearl Harbor attack offers talks and witness accounts
The 65th anniversary on the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor will be marked by a symposium that will feature survivors, Japanese aviators, a historian and authors. Some of the events at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel include:
7:30 p.m.: Showing of Japanese and American newsreel footage from actual 1941 news reports on the attack of Pearl Harbor -- The event will also feature two special panel discussions: "How They Reported It: Contrasting Headlines of Dec. 7th, 1941, and Sept. 11th, 2001," featuring media experts and news reporters; and "A New Beginning: The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites," featuring representatives from USS Bowfin Submarine & Museum, USS Missouri Battleship Memorial and Pacific Air Museum, and a special film from the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum and Visitor Center.
9:45 a.m.: Early Warnings Talk by Kermit Tyler -- The lieutenant who was assigned to the information center at Fort Shafter on Dec. 7 and uttered the words "Don't worry about it," when he received a telephone call from two Opana Point radar operators who spotted something "big and quickly moving" on their radar screen prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Also speaking will be Harry Butowsky, who was instrumental in establishing the Opana Radar Site as a National Historic Landmark.
1 p.m.: Pacific Fleet Sailors -- Four Pearl Harbor survivors will provide their personal recollections while serving on a battleship. They are Everett Hyland from the USS Pennsylvania, Don Stratton from the USS Arizona, Jack Evans of the USS California, and Lee Soucy of the USS Utah.
2:50 p.m.: Japanese Aerial Experience -- Recollections of Japanese pilots to include Zenji Abe, a dive bomber pilot who flew in the second wave of attack; Takeshi Maeda, who was a rear-seat gunner on a torpedo plane that made the runs against Battleship Row; and Jiro Yoshida, president of the Japanese naval veterans group.
3:45 p.m.: The Amazing Saga of Jim Leavelle -- An eyewitness and participant in two of the most dramatic historical events of the 20th century. At Pearl Harbor, he was a storekeeper who manned the guns on the USS Whitney on Dec. 7, 1941. Leavelle went on to become a police detective in Dallas and, in 1963, was one of the first to interrogate Lee Harvey Oswald after President Kennedy's assassination. Leavelle was handcuffed to Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby.
7:40 a.m.: Women of Pearl Harbor -- The recollections of the Pearl Harbor attack by women who were children at the time and those who served as nurses. Panel members include: Anna Busby, Army nurse; Pat Thompson, who was 10 years old when she attended the Battle of Music on the night before the Pearl Harbor attack and danced with a young man named Jack Evans from the USS California; Dorinda Nicholson, author who was a 9-year-old girl who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack from her home in Pearl City; and Joan Rodby, who was a young girl living in the shadow of Diamond Head Crater.
9 a.m.: Diving Into History -- A review of the National Park Service's dives on the USS Arizona and the USS Utah by Jennifer Burbank, National Park Service diver.
9:35 a.m.: The Kimmel-Short Controversy -- Fred Borch, former Army judge advocate, and Donald Young, historian, author and lecturer, will discuss different perspectives surrounding the accountability of the Navy's Adm. Husband Kimmel and the Army's Gen. Walter Short in the Pearl Harbor disaster.
10:50 a.m.: Hidden Images -- U.S. National Park historian Daniel Martinez, who has studied and reviewed countless photographs taken before, during and after the Pearl Harbor attack, will discuss these photographs.
1 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Aftermath: The Last Detail -- Pharmacist's mate Sterling Cale will recount that last detail to recover the dead and account for the losses that he would find on the deck of the USS Arizona.
1:35 p.m.: A Shipyard Worker's Witness to History -- Edward Chun, Naval Shipyard worker, will discuss the attack and how he spent hours pulling sailors out of the water.
-- Star-Bulletin staff