Pearl Harbor survivors remember attack 69 years later

December 7, 2010 4:49:17 PM PST
In Chicago and across the country, Americans paused to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor 69 years ago.

Nine survivors from the area were on hand for a ceremony in Chicago. They want make sure future generations know what happened. Most are in their nineties, but they say their memories of December 7, 1941 are as clear as if it were yesterday.

It has been almost 70 years since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but Chicago showed its survivors Tuesday that it will not forget. Mayor Richard Daley, along with the survivors, launched a wreath into the waters of Lake Michigan.

"I firmly believe this is a very grateful city. We do remember all the veterans, all the veterans of all the campaigns," Daley said.

A 21-cannon salute marked an end to the ceremony which took place at Navy Pier.

Only about 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors remain nationwide. On December 7, 1941 Jack Barry was assigned to naval intelligence in Honolulu.

"They should remember that we were not prepared. We knew something was in the wind, but we didn't know where or when they were going to strike," Barry told ABC 7.

"I was on a receiving station on the second deck. And there was a window in front of me, so I watched the whole deck, the Oklahoma turning over," said James Lyle Hancock, survivor.

Navy medic Dean Garrett recalls how soon every one of the battle ships at Pearl Harbor was badly damaged or sunk. To this day, 1,100 people remain entombed in the U.S.S. Arizona, -- seven of them from Chicago. At Tuesday's remembrance, a bell was tolled twice for each of those Chicagoans as their names were read out aloud.

"There was oil burning on the surface of the waters of Pearl Harbor. Our men were there, many of them in the water. Severe burns were everywhere," said Garrett.

"I told my dad, 'I'm going to come home in one piece or not at all.' I never gave it another thought after that. I'm still standing," said Frank Gibbons.

More than 2,400 American servicemen died as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. One hundred and twenty five of them were from Illinois.

The City of Chicago has held a Pearl Harbor remembrance every year for the last 14 years.


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