Memories still vivid at Pearl Harbor 76 years after attack

It was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Seventy-six years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States to enter World War II.

On Thursday, a special ceremony marked a day of remembrance and reflection as a handful of remaining survivors and dozens of World War II veterans gathered at Pearl Harbor.

A 21-gun salute and taps honored the nearly 2,400 Americans who were killed that Sunday morning.

Those who survived had amazing, and horrifying, tales.

“All these planes appeared overhead, and they had an orange ball on them, but it didn’t register in our minds, because the thought of war was not on our minds,” said Pearl Harbor survivor Delton Walling.

“We got hit with a 500-pounder, and that 500-pounder knocked the chain off the hook. We had a dumbwaiter filled with ammo four stories high, and it came down and sounded like a freight train,” said Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Irwin.

USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton says he lost his fingerprints after he “was burned over 70 percent” of his body.

“He threw us a line with a weight on the end, and a small line, and then we tied the heavier line on and dragged it across and tied it on the Arizona, and we proceeded to go hand over hand across that line, about 70 feet,” Stratton said.

“When it was between attacks, we would sneak up in between the officer’s quarters and we watched the Arizona blowing up, and West Virginia, and all of those were getting hit, and it was kinds of dumb, but we did it,” said USS Utah survivor Gilbert Meyer.

Many Pearl Harbor survivors continued to fight in a number of naval battles across the Pacific, most of whom are now in their mid-90s.

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