No USS Arizona survivors to attend this year's Pearl Harbor commemoration
For the first this Friday, Hawaii marks the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor without any survivors from the USS Arizona.
For the first on Friday, Hawaii marks the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor without any survivors from the USS Arizona.
"The ceremony becomes more poignant every year as that World War II generation passes right in front of our eyes. It is the twilight of their lives. We're lucky to have some of them living in their 90's," Daniel Martinez, chief historian for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, including the Arizona Memorial, said.
The ranks are thinning. Only five men can say "I was there" on board the USS Arizona when it was attacked December 7, 1941.
One will be here to mark that moment 77 years in their past. 97-year-old Lou Conter is one of those five. He has made the trip to Hawaii the past 15 years but this year he had to cancel. Doctor's orders.
"We're all 98 and 97 and that's why I think that it was hard for us to, you know we get sick and it takes a little longer and we have to just relax and do as the doctor says," Lou Conter, A USS Arizona survivor, said.
Lou didn't quit 77 years ago and certainly isn't quitting now.
Another survivor, 96 year old Don Stratton, will miss this year because his wife faces health complications that won't allow her to travel.
"It just makes for a tough trip for him. A 6 hour flight you know if my mom had been feeling a little better, they might've taken the trip. We've been out there 11 straight years, this'll be the first year in 12 years we've missed," Randy Stratton, Don Stratton's son, said.
The other three remaining is 98-year-old Lauren Bruner and Lonnie Cook, and 97-year-old Ken Potts.
About 40 World War II veterans are expected to attend Friday's ceremony, 16 are Pearl Harbor survivors.
The National Parks Service is committed to making sure their stories live on. From here on out, It plans to use veterans' voice recordings to help them connect to future generations.
"We have their voices. We've recorded their oral history. So can you imagine that we could put an audio program and play it during our ceremony and have them come alive like they come alive in the museum."
About 13,000 chairs are set on the back lawn of the visitor center for the anniversary. Friday's ceremony begins at 7:50 a.m.