Al Patten saluted yesterday as echo taps was played at the end of the ceremony commemorating 61 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Patten was aboard the USS Nevada with five of his brothers during the attack. All survived the war.

Dec. 7 tribute
honors troops past
and present

Ceremonies marking the
anniversary of the Japanese attack
focus on defending freedom

By Helen Altonn

Men and women serving in today's military are as ready as those 61 years ago "to defend and uphold the values of our democracy," says U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

In an address yesterday commemorating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, Inouye recalled "the spirit of America" that helped lead the country to victory in World War II.

"Today we hear the ugly voices of hatred that preach the violent rhetoric of terror," said Inouye, who lost his right arm in battle in Italy and earned the Medal of Honor.

He didn't mention the threat of war with Iraq, but said in visits to hundreds of military men and women the past six months, it was "clearly obvious to us they are instilled with the spirit of America to fight for our democratic way of life."

About 186 military and civilian dignitaries and guests, including 16 Pearl Harbor survivors, attended the solemn and emotional ceremonies at dawn aboard the sunken battleship USS Arizona.

Rear Adm. Robert T. Conway Jr., commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, paid homage to heroes of the past and those of the future. "To serve our country today ... there is no greater honor," he said.

The colors were raised yesterday at the USS Arizona Memorial during "A Day of Remembrance," the 61st commemoration of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Winds of 30 mph made hoisting the flag difficult.

The Naval Station Ceremonial Guard struggled to hoist the American flag in 30-mph winds after practicing two days in 5-mph winds, but skies were sunny and rain ponchos under every chair remained unopened.

Many eyes filled with tears as survivors talked story with each other, reliving the horrific events of Dec. 7, 1941. The Japanese sank 21 American warships, destroyed 164 planes and killed 2,395 military personnel in the surprise Sunday morning bombing.

Allen Patten, 85, said he was one of eight brothers who fought in the war and one of six serving on the USS Nevada when it was sunk. All of the brothers survived, he said.

He came from Anchorage for the anniversary with his son, Lex, and granddaughters Tori Ingram-Patten, 8, and Zoe, 10. "I am trying to prep them," said Lex Patten. "They are just old enough now to sense the gravity of the situation."

Allen Patten was a chief machinist mate on the USS Lexington and USS Enterprise, as well as the Nevada. His memoirs, "Pearl Harbor and Other Memories," were published a few years ago, his son said.

Looking across the harbor on a boat ride to the Arizona Memorial, Freddy Oliver McMullen, 83, of Modesto, Calif., said: "I'm plumb lost. They built a bridge there. It turned me around."

He joined the Navy at age 16 and had to obtain a phony birth certificate saying he was 18 to stay in, he said. He also was on the Nevada, then anchored behind the Arizona.

"I saw the Arizona go down. A lot of people were in the water; a lot of oil was in the water."

McMullen said his granddaughter arranged for him to come here with his wife, Betty, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, as well as the Dec. 7 anniversary. Their daughter, Bobbi, came with them but their granddaughter, Corri, couldn't make it, they said.

A moment of silence was observed at 7:55 a.m. when the attack began and the Hawaii Air National Guard flew over the Arizona in a missing man formation. Military representatives dropped flowers into the water below the Arizona, and they drifted across the harbor.

Louis Conter, 81, of Grass Valley, Calif., who retired in 1967 as a lieutenant commander in the Navy, was on the quarterdeck of the Arizona when it was sunk.

"Today is a day of remembrance for those who didn't make it," he said. "We were the lucky ones. We married and had children and grandchildren."

Conter said he was at the 50th and 60th anniversaries and plans to return for the 70th one.

He said he didn't discuss what happened on Dec. 7, 1941, until about 1991, when a teacher asked him to talk to students. In the last 12 years, he and other Pearl Harbor survivors in his area have talked to 6,500 children, he said.

Lorraine Marks-Haislip of Sun City, Ariz., said her husband was on re-enlistment leave from the Arizona and lost all his shipmates in the attack. "He lived with that all his life."

He never wanted to return here, but two days before he died in 1986 they had paid for a trip to Hawaii for the 45th anniversary of the sinking, she said.

She began working as a USS Arizona historian two years after his death. "I've discovered a lot of information about the Arizona is false, and a lot of information wasn't told that needed to be told."

Working with Ray Emory, a Pearl Harbor survivor historian, they have reduced the number of "unknown" graves at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl by identifying the ships of the casualties and putting the names on the markers.

"Finally, after 61 years, families can go and see possibly where their loved ones are," she said.

Emory, president emeritus of the National Chief Petty Officers Association, served on the USS Honolulu. He became interested in the unknown graves when he went to Punchbowl 12 years ago and asked where Pearl Harbor military casualties were buried. "They didn't know," he said.

The 61st Arizona ceremony ended with a benediction by Capt. Tomas Atkins, Navy Region Hawaii chaplain; a 21-gun salute by a Marine Corps rifle detail; and echo taps by the Pacific Fleet Band.

Other ceremonies were held yesterday at the USS Arizona Visitor Center operated by the U.S. National Park Service, Hickam Air Force Base and the Kaneohe Klipper Memorial at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Later yesterday, survivors and others gathered at Punchbowl to recognize redesignation of 177 grave markers.

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