DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was observed by veterans and their families visiting the Arizona Memorial yesterday. Attendees included seven survivors from the USS Arizona. Bob Lovell, left, and retired Lt. Cmdr. Joe Langdell, 92, walked toward the memorial. CLICK FOR LARGE
Details of attack still vivid for USS Arizona veterans
Seven survivors return to pay their respects
Pearl Harbor survivor Lonnie Cook remembers completing his morning shower in the forward section of the battleship USS Arizona and returning to his locker just before the Japanese began their attack.
"I was standing in front of my locker changing clothes," the 86-year-old said, "when the bombs started falling."
Had Cook taken a bit longer in the shower, he would have been killed along with 1,177 of his Arizona shipmates. The 1,760-pound armor piercing ordnance that sank the Arizona ignited its forward ammunition magazine near the showers.
PEARL HARBOR EVENTS TOMORROW
» 7:40 to 9:30 a.m.: Fifteen hundred Pearl Harbor survivors and 2,000 guests and members of the public will observe the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on the Kilo Pier at Pearl Harbor Naval Station.
Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw will be the keynote speaker.
Seating and transportation from the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center for the public will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The first boat leaves at 5:45 a.m.
» 11:30 a.m.: Opening ceremony for the Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island Hangar 37. The museum opens at noon.
Guest speakers will be Chuck Yeager, World War II flying ace and the first man to break the sound barrier, and Wally Schirra, one of the original seven astronauts and the only one to fly in all three manned space programs.
Tickets are $14 for adults, $7 for children, $10 for adult Hawaii residents and $5 for Hawaii children. Active duty military in uniform will get in for free.
Tickets will be available at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum.
From the mundane to the most important details, Pearl Harbor survivors retain vivid images of that day 65 years ago, when Japanese airplanes dotted the sky above Oahu, their bombs blowing up massive ships out of existence.
And their memories show that at least among the rank and file, everyone was expecting a normal day.
"I was there in front of my locker in my white shorts and I grabbed my wallet out of locker," Cook said yesterday. "I had $60 in it that I had won in a crap game the night before."
"It's a good thing I took it because I didn't get paid for 8 1/2 months. Every place I got transferred to didn't have my pay records, so I didn't get any money."
No one knows how many Arizona survivors remain. Those who have returned year after year to commemorate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor now are in their 80s and 90s. Yesterday, Cook, who has returned to Hawaii for the first time in 35 years, was among seven survivors who returned for the 65th anniversary of the attack, with 180 family members and friends.
They're here to pay their respects at the Arizona Memorial that straddles the sunken battleship, a tomb to nearly 1,000 sailors.
Ruth Campbell, reunion coordinator for this year's gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, said there are no records of how many of the 334 sailors who survived the Japanese attack are still living today.
"We wish we knew, but we don't," said Campbell, whose brother-in-law, William Goodwin, was killed on the Arizona.
But their numbers are diminishing. The records of her association, which has held a Honolulu reunion every five years since 1978, can only account for 34 Arizona survivors. Nine survivors and their family members will be present tomorrow during the anniversary commemoration.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Anthony Rella, 88, shook hands with every sailor yesterday as he neared the entrance to the Arizona Memorial on his way to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. CLICK FOR LARGE
Campbell said she believes that at least one Arizona survivor, John Earle, lives in Hawaii, but is unable to attend because he is ill.
The oldest in this year's group is retired Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Langdell, 92, who attended yesterday's ceremonies at the USS Arizona visitor center in Navy dress whites. He held a snappy salute as he made his way up the walkway to the visitor center, which was lined on both sides by an honor guard of enlisted Navy sailors and Marines.
Langdell was one of three principal figures in the television documentary, "USS Arizona: Life and Death of a Lady" that aired on the A&E cable network in 1991 and 1992. On Dec. 7, 1941, he was a newly commissioned ensign billeted on Ford Island, about 100 yards from Battleship Row. From the bachelor quarters on Ford Island, Langdell watched as the Arizona sank in nine minutes.
"My duty station was the No. 2 gun, which was hit by an aerial bomb," said Langdell, who has requested that he be entombed in the sunken battleship when he dies.
"If I had been aboard, I would have been killed," he said.
Radioman Glenn Lane was 23 in 1941 when the attack occurred.
He believes he holds the distinction of being "the only sailor blown off two battleships."
The 88-year-old Oklahoma resident said one of the explosions from a Japanese fighter "blew" him off the stern of the Arizona.
"I swam to the (battleship) Nevada, which was behind us. I rode it down the harbor until it had to be beached."
However, it took more than six decades for Lane, who retired from the military after 30 years of service as a command master chief, to receive his Purple Heart medal for wounds he received during the Pearl Harbor attack.