3 Survivors Recall Pearl Harbor Attack


pearl-harbor[Video below.] Andrew Ryan of The Globe reports: The biting wind and dreary gray sky seemed appropriate this afternoon at the Charlestown Navy Yard for a simple and somber ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.In the shadow of a .38-caliber antiaircraft gun on the deck of the USS Cassin Young, a few dozen veterans and National Park Service rangers sang the National Anthem, listened to brief remarks about sacrifice, tossed a wreath into the cold water, and saluted the American flag as it flapped in a steady breeze.

“Once again we are gathered together in remembrance of that day 68 years ago that the then President Roosevelt called a date that will live in infamy, said Donald Tabbut, 86, the former commander of the Freedom Trail Chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors & Friends, which disbanded in April when the number of local survivors dropped to 12.

The ceremony at the Boston National Historical Park once drew dozens of veterans who lived through the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. But most have died and only three survivors attended the rite today, walking onto the decommissioned naval destroyer with the aid of a cane or the steady arm of a younger relative. All three men showed the symptoms of age, with hunched backs and slight trembles in their hands. But memories of that day remain fresh.

Bernard J. Murphy, 87, leaned on his cane, let out an exasperated sigh, and recounted an image that has stayed with him for the last 68 years. Murphy was a second-class gunner’s mate aboard the USS Maryland, and he can still recall reaching out an arm to light a cigarette for an officer when there was an explosion.

“He got killed. I was that close to him. And he died right on the spot,” said Murphy of Worcester. “It was a traumatic morning, I’ll tell you that much. They took us by surprise.”

Click below for a video of the ceremony:

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{The Boston Globe/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}