PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A few dozen elderly men who survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor 74 years ago gathered Monday at the site to remember fellow servicemen who didn't make it.
The U.S. Navy and National Park Service hosted a ceremony in remembrance of those killed on Dec. 7, 1941. About 3,000 people were expected to join the survivors.
Robert Irwin, 91, of Cameron Park, Calif., was in the barracks when the attack began and saw Japanese planes flying overhead. A fellow sailor said to him, "What's the red ball in the wing, Bob?"
The seaman first class hopped on a truck that took him to the USS Pennsylvania, where he fed ammunition to the deck of the battleship.
"It brings back some lousy memories," Irwin said of returning to Pearl Harbor. But he comes to the annual ceremony because the attack was "a big thing in my life."
The event was held on a Navy pier overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial. It straddles the battleship which sank nine minutes after being hit. It remains a grave site for many of those killed.
Adm. Harry Harris, who leads the U.S. Pacific Command, says Dec. 7, 1941, "must forever remain burned into the American consciousness."
He says because we've remained vigilant, "today's armed forces are ready to answer the alarm bell."
Roughly 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on the island of Oahu in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.