Survivors Gather for Pearl Harbor Anniversary

But it's getting harder for elderly vets to make it to Hawaii
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2014 9:33 PM CST
Updated Dec 8, 2014 12:15 AM CST
Survivors Gather for Pearl Harbor Anniversary
A Navy sailor escorts Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor John Chapman during yesterday's ceremony.   (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

Veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack that launched the United States into World War II attended yesterday's 73rd anniversary ceremony with the help of canes, wheelchairs, and motorized scooters. Wearing purple orchid lei, about 100 Pearl Harbor and World War II survivors attended the ceremony overlooking a memorial that sits atop the sunken battleship USS Arizona. Many of them arrived well before the sun came up. This year's anniversary of the Japanese attack is the 10th consecutive one that USS Utah survivor Gilbert Meyer attended. But it's getting harder for the 91-year-old to travel to Hawaii from San Antonio. Asked if he planned to attend next year's anniversary, he responded with a chuckle, "That's like asking me if I'll still be alive."

Some 1,177 sailors and Marines died on the USS Arizona, and four of the nine survivors still alive were at the ceremony. One of them, John Anderson, 97, of Roswell, NM, was ordered off the ship after it was hit, but he didn't want to leave behind his twin brother, Delbert. Even though he was forced into a small boat that took him to Ford Island, he commandeered an empty boat and returned to the Arizona to rescue three shipmates—but he never found his brother. After the ceremony, the four survivors planned to visit the memorial for a toast to their fallen shipmates using glasses that are replicas of the ones on the ship. After the toast, divers would place one of the glasses at the base of one of the Arizona's gun turrets. (More Pearl Harbor stories.)

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