AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy

HONOLULU (AP) — Survivors gathered Thursday at the web site of the Japanese attack on Gem Harbor to remember fellow servicemen slain in the early morning raid 76 in years past, paying homage to the thousands who have died with a solemn ceremony tagging the surprise bombing raid that will plunged the U. S. in to World War II.

About 20 survivors went to the event at a grassy spot looking over the harbor and the USS Az Memorial. They were joined by about two, 000 Navy sailors, officials plus members of the public.

Gilbert Meyer, who resided through the Dec. 7, 1941 bombing, said he returned to pay their respects to his shipmates in the USS Utah – and state a prayer for them.

The 94-year who lives near Lytle, Tx, was an 18-year-old fireman 1st class when a torpedo hit the interface side of the Utah. He mentioned he’s still alive because he were on the ship’s starboard side.

“I think about my shipmates and how these were killed. It reminds me that will we’re lucky we got away from and we’ve made a good nation for them, ” Meyer said.

Meyer later served in the battles from Attu, Kiska, Iwo Jima plus Okinawa. He witnessed Japan’s give up in 1945 from the deck from the USS Detroit in Tokyo These types of.

Herbert Elfring remembered hearing bombs explode and first thought the particular explosions were U. S. schooling exercises.

Then a fighter plane along with Japan’s World War II Rising Sun insignia strafed the Camp Makaole bottom where Elfring, 19 at the time, has been serving. The bullets missed your pet by about 15 feet (5 meters).

“When I looked up plus saw the red ball around the fuselage I knew it was not our plane, ” he stated. “I knew it was a Japan plane. ”

The Jackson, The state of michigan man is now 95 and mentioned returning to Pearl Harbor for the wedding anniversary of the attack makes him really feel special because he’s one of the few left over survivors.

“I have one of those hats that says ‘Pearl Harbor Survivor’ on it, ” he said. “It’s amazing how many people come up plus thank me for my assistance. ”

Elfring was in the army for the entire war, serving in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. When it ended, he went to the particular University of Michigan on the GI Bill, worked for a gas plus electric company and raised category of five.

The ceremony began using a moment of silence at seven: 55 a. m. in honor of people who lost their lives – the same time frame the attack began. Four The hawaiian islands Air National Guard F-22 jet fighter jets broke the silence, along with one plane peeling off from the girls to symbolize servicemen still lacking.

“The heroes with us today guaranteed Pearl Harbor would not be the finish of the story, ” said Pacific cycles Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Quick. “Instead of retreating from the combat, America’s Pacific Fleet dug in the heels. Along the way, they forged the cultural heritage of resilience that will sailors continue to draw upon these days. ”

The Navy and Nationwide Park Service host the wedding ceremony each year. Usually, a Pacific Navy vessel with sailors manning the particular rails passes by the USS Az Memorial during the event. This year, simply no ship participated because of naval functional commitments, said Bill Doughty, the spokesman for Navy Region The hawaiian islands.

More than 2, 300 servicemen had been killed in the assault by Japan airplanes. Nearly half were over the USS Arizona, which exploded plus sank after it was hit simply by two bombs. Most of the Arizona’s dropped are entombed in the battleship, which usually lies at the bottom of the harbor.