PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A few dozen elderly men who survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor 74 years ago gathered Monday at the site to remember fellow servicemen who didn't make it.
The U.S. Navy and National Park Service hosted a ceremony in remembrance of those killed on Dec. 7, 1941.
Adm. Harry Harris, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, said the day "must forever remain burned into the American consciousness." "For 74 years, we've remembered Pearl Harbor. We've remained vigilant. And today's armed forces are ready to answer the alarm bell," said Harris, who leads the U.S. Pacific Command.
Robert Irwin, 91, of Cameron Park, Calif., was in the barracks when the attack began and saw Japanese planes flying overhead. A fellow sailor saw a Rising Sun insignia on the wings and asked Irwin if he knew what the "red ball" was. The seaman first class hopped on a truck that took him to the USS Pennsylvania, where he fed ammunition to the deck of the battleship.
"It brings back some lousy memories," Irwin said of returning to Pearl Harbor. But he comes to the annual ceremony because the attack was a "big thing in my life." Irwin served as firefighter in San Francisco after the war and retired as a lieutenant in 1979.
During the attack, roughly 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on Oahu.