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07 December 2006

Keep America Alert!

The attack may have occurred 65 years ago, but survivors say they can still hear the explosions, smell the burning flesh, taste the sea water and hear the cries.

"The younger ones were crying, 'Mom! Mom! Mom!'" said Edward Chun, who witnessed the attack from the Ten-Ten dock, just a couple hundred yards away from Battleship Row.

Chun, 83, had just begun his workday as a civilian pipe fitter when he was thrust into assisting in everything from spraying water on the ships to aiding casualties.

"From the time the first bomb dropped and for the next 15 minutes, it was complete chaos," he said. "Nobody knew what was going on. Everybody was running around like a chicken with their head cut off."

Chun saw the Oklahoma and West Virginia torpedoed by Japanese aircraft. He heard the tapping of sailors trapped in the hulls of sunken ships. He escaped death when Ten-Ten was strafed, leaving behind dead and wounded.

Many of the dead were teenage sailors and Marines away from home for the first time. They died before they had an opportunity to get married, have children, build lives.

Four in five servicemen on the USS Arizona — 1,177 in all — did not survive the day. It was the greatest loss of life of any ship in U.S. naval history. They remain entombed in the battleship's sunken hull, which still seeps oil every few seconds, leaving a colorful sheen on the harbor water.

The survivors say they have more than horrific memories to offer. "Remember Pearl Harbor" is just the first half of the association's motto; the rest is "Keep America alert."

Excerpts from article by
JAYMES SONG, Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 7, 7:58 AM ET


More about Pearl Harbor at:
Naval Historical Center
National Geographic
USS Arizona National Memorial

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