PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) – A few dozen Pearl Harbor survivors are expected to gather at the site of the Japanese bombing 80 years ago on Tuesday to remember those killed in the attack that launched the United States United in World War II.
Herb Elfring, 99, said he was happy to return to Pearl Harbor as he hardly survived the air assault.
“It was just good to come back and be able to be part of the remembrance of the day,” Elfring told reporters over the weekend.
Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coastal Artillery, part of the California National Guard on December 7, 1941. He recalled zero Japanese planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his military base at Camp Malakole, in a few miles from the Pearl Harbor coast.
Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Mich., Said he returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual memorial ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service.
About thirty survivors and a hundred other war veterans were to join him this year.
They will observe a minute of silence at 7:55 a.m., the very minute the attack began decades ago. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro is expected to deliver the opening speech.
The bombardment killed more than 2,300 American soldiers. Almost half – or 1,177 – were Marines and Sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship docked in the harbor.
Several women who contributed to the war effort by working in factories came to Hawaii to participate in the commemoration this year.
Mae Krier, who built B-17s and B-29s at a Boeing factory in Seattle, said it took a long time for the world to thank women for their work.
“And we fought together as far as I’m concerned. But it has taken so long to honor what we women have done. And of course I fought hard for that, to get our recognition, ”said Krier, who is now 95 years old. “But it was so good that they finally started to honor us.
This year’s ceremony takes place as a strong storm, accompanied by high winds and extremely heavy rain, hits Hawaii, inundating roads and knocking down power lines. Navy spokeswoman Brenda Way told The Associated Press in an email Monday that she had not heard of any discussions about canceling the event due to the storms.