Pearl Harbor survivors called 'noble' About 60 of them gather on cutter Taney's deck in annual remembrance

December 08, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

About 60 survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack gathered on the Coast Guard cutter Roger B. Taney yesterday for the annual remembrance of one of the most tumultuous and wrenching days in American history.

Some wore their service uniforms and decorations. All wore a white hat with black lettering that read, "Pearl Harbor Survivors."

The Taney is also a survivor -- one of two surviving vessels that were at Pearl during the attack Dec. 7, 1941, that began shortly before 8 a.m. on a Sunday.

The Japanese attack sank or damaged 19 ships, killed 2,403 servicemen and civilians and wounded 1,178.

Before the start of the memorial service at 11: 45 a.m., the American Legion Balladeers from Parkville Post 183 serenaded the audience with popular songs from the World War II era, among them "Remember Pearl Harbor" and "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition."

Anthony J. DiLorenzo, who served aboard the cruiser USS Honolulu, said, "This is always a very special day to me and my fellow survivors. We share the fellowship of yesterday, and we remember the events of Dec. 7, 1941, and our buddies of the past."

"They were a noble group of American patriots who became the grinding, churning engine of freedom," Paul J. Travers said of the survivors. He is the son of a Pearl Harbor veteran and author of "Eyewitness to Infamy," a book about the attack.

Michael A. Sicher of Riderwood, a Vietnam War-era Navy veteran, attended the ceremony with his two sons and father-in-law.

Sicher's father and late mother were stationed at Pearl Harbor from 1941 to 1945.

He showed a visitor the poignant Western Union telegram that his mother was allowed to send to her anxious parents in New York City a week after the attack.

It read: "Both Fine. Don't Worry. Love, Dorothy."

"It is a pilgrimage. It's important for me to be here," Doug Phillips, of Sherwood, who served aboard the minelayer USS Ramsay at Pearl Harbor, said of the annual event.

The service concluded with the placing of a wreath into the cold waters of the Inner Harbor at 12: 55 p.m. -- the exact moment the first wave of Japanese planes began dropping their bombs on Pearl Harbor.

Pub Date: 12/08/97

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