PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — The Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor and those who lost their lives that day are being remembered Wednesday on the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack that brought the U.S. into World War II.
About 120 survivors will join Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, military leaders and civilians to observe a moment of silence in Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time – the moment the attack began seven decades ago.
About 3,000 people are expected to attend the event held each year at a site overlooking the sunken USS Arizona and the white memorial that straddles the battleship.
The Pearl Harbor-based guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon will render honors to the Arizona and blow its whistle at the start of a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m. – the same time 70 years ago the first Japanese planes began to attack.
F-22 jets flown by the Hawaii National Guard are due to soar overhead in a missing man formation to finish the moment of silence.
Mal Middlesworth, a Marine veteran who was on the USS San Francisco during the bombing, will deliver the keynote address.
President Barack Obama hailed veterans of the bombing in a statement proclaiming Wednesday “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
“Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms,” he said.
Also this week, five ash scattering and interment ceremonies are being held for five survivors whose cremated remains are returning to Pearl Harbor after their deaths.
On Tuesday, an urn containing the ashes of Lee Soucy was placed on his battleship, the USS Utah, which is lying on its side near the place where it sank 70 years ago. The ashes of Vernon Olsen, who was on the Arizona during the attack, will be placed on his ship late Wednesday.
The U.S. lost 12 vessels that day, but the Arizona and the Utah are the only ones still sitting in the harbor. The ashes of three others are being scattered in the water in separate ceremonies this week.