Pearl Harbor Survivors Gather for 75th Anniversary Reunion
HONOLULU — A moment of silence descended over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time Wednesday, marking 75 years to the minute when the first Japanese war planes filled the skies Dec. 7, 1941, to lay waste to the Navy’s Pacific fleet and usher the United States into World War II.
The USS Halsey sounded its whistle to signal the solemn moment as thousands of Pearl Harbor veterans, their families and other dignitaries bowed their heads. The minute of silence was broken by four F-22 fighter jets flying overhead through clear blue skies in a “missing man formation” in honor of those who died.
Some of the Pearl Harbor survivors were in their seats at Kilo Pier before 6 a.m., answering an early morning call as they did 75 years earlier.
On the front row were three Navy veterans — shipmates on the USS Arizona that fateful morning when a Japanese bomb crippled and sunk the mighty battleship. They were among 335 survivors from a crew of 2,512.
The trio — Lauren Bruner, Donald Stratton and Lou Conter — shook hands and signed autographs, surrounded by people eager to meet them.
“It’s been some long days,” said Stratton, whose son and granddaughter helped raise the money to bring Stratton and three other Arizona shipmates to Hawaii.
“We hardly have time to breathe,” he said. “They have us busy.”
He turned to a Boy Scout who wanted a picture with him and chatted for a moment.
A fourth Arizona survivor made the trip, but fell ill and could not attend Wednesday’s memorial. The fifth of the remaining Arizona survivors, Lonnie Cook, did not travel to Hawaii.
Two years ago, when nine survivors remained, four of them met on the Arizona memorial for a final champagne toast to their fallen shipmates.