Pearl Harbor survivors gather and remember those lost in the attack

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A few dozen survivors of Pearl Harbor are expected to gather Tuesday at the site of the Japanese bombing 80 years ago to remember those killed in the attack that launched the U.S. into World War II

Herb Elfring, 99, said he’s glad to return to Pearl Harbor considering he almost didn’t live through the aerial assault. 

“It was just plain good to get back and be able to participate in the remembrance of the day,” Elfring told reporters over the weekend. 

PEARL HARBOR 80TH ANNIVERSARY BRINGS MEMORIES, TRIBUTES-AND A LESSON 

Herb Elfring speaks with National Park Service workers in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Elfring was in the Army, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery, part of the California National Guard, on Dec. 7, 1941. He recalled Japanese Zero planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his base at Camp Malakole, a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor. 

Elfring, who lives in Jackson, Michigan, said he has returned to Hawaii about 10 times to attend the annual memorial ceremony hosted by the Navy and the National Park Service. 

About 30 survivors and 100 other veterans of the war were expected to join him this year. 

Mae Krier, right, who worked at a Boeing plant during World War II making B-17s and B-29s, speaks at a news conference in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021 accompanied by Marian Wynn, left, who worked as a pipe welder during the war. 
(AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

They will observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the same minute the attack began decades ago. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro is expected to deliver the keynote speech. 

The bombing killed more than 2,300 U.S. troops. Nearly half – or 1,177 – were Marines and sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship moored in the harbor. 

Several women who helped the war effort by working in factories came to Hawaii to participate in the remembrance this year. 

Mae Krier, who built B-17s and B-29s at a Boeing plant in Seattle, said it took the world a while to credit women for their work. 

Mae Krier, who worked at a Boeing plant during the war, speaks at a news conference in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

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“And we fought together as far as I’m concerned. But it took so long to honor what us women did. And so of course, I’ve been fighting hard for that, to get our recognition,” said Krier, who is 95. “But it was so nice they finally started to honor us.” 

This year’s ceremony takes place as a strong storm packing high winds and extremely heavy rains hits Hawaii, flooding roads and downing power lines. Navy spokesperson Brenda Way told The Associated Press in an email Monday that she has heard of no discussion of canceling the event because of the storms. 

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