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Pearl Harbor Veterans Return to Rest in Peace

Some vets choosing to be interred among old shipmates
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2011 5:02 AM CST
Updated Dec 7, 2011 7:17 AM CST
70 Years Later, Survivors Return to Pearl Harbor
Lee Soucy's ashes are being interred on the USS Utah, his ship that sank during the attack and is still sitting in Pearl Harbor.   (AP Photo/Pacific Historic Parks, Maureen Monte)

(Newser) – As the US prepares to mark 70 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, some servicemen who survived the attack have returned to the site permanently. The ashes of Lee Soucy, who died last year at the age of 90, have been interred in the USS Utah with the help of a Navy diver. The ship still lies where it sank in 1941 and holds the remains of dozens of his shipmates who died in the attack. The ashes of Vernon Olsen will be placed in the USS Arizona, on which 1,177 of his shipmates died. Three others, whose ships were salvaged for scrap, will have their ashes scattered in the harbor today.

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"They want to return and be with the shipmates that they lost during the attack," a retired sailor who coordinates the ceremonies tells AP. Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association have gathered at the site every Dec. 7 for more than 50 years. But as membership dwindles and the health of survivors declines, the organization has decided to disband at the end of this year, the New York Times reports. "We felt we ran a good course for 70 years, fought a good fight," said the director of the association's Southeast chapter. "We have no place to recruit people anymore: Dec. 7 only happened on one day in 1941." (Read more World War II stories.)

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