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At Pearl Harbor, Japanese attack remembered

Fifty survivors attend ceremony to honor fallen

Pearl Harbor survivors watched as a World War II plane flew over during the commemoration of the attack.

MARCO GARCIA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pearl Harbor survivors watched as a World War II plane flew over during the commemoration of the attack.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — About 50 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor paused Saturday at the site to honor those killed and remember the moment that plunged the United States into World War II.

Alvis Taylor, 90, was serving as an Army medic when the attack began. His superiors, who were doctors, rushed to hospitals to care for the wounded and left him in charge. He went to Pearl Harbor, about 18 miles south of his Army post at Schofield Barracks, with dozens of ambulances.

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‘‘I remember everything that happened that day,’’ Taylor said grimly.

A crowd of about 2,500 joined the survivors at Pearl Harbor to honor those killed and those who fired back, rescued the burned, and went on to serve during the war. About 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.

Taylor, who lives in Davenport, Iowa, decided to return to Pearl Harbor for the first time since the war this week because the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America paid for him and his wife to make the trip.

Of the tens of thousands of servicemen who survived, about 2,000 to 2,500 are still living.

The crowd observed a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the bombing began 72 years ago.

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A vintage World War II-era airplane — a 1944 North American SNJ-5B — flew overhead to break the silence. The Hawaii Air National Guard has used its fighter jets and helicopters to perform the flyover for many years, but federal budget cuts prevented it from participating this year.

The Navy and National Park Service cohosted the ceremony, which was open to the public.

The current US Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., said the US remembers Pearl Harbor and is vigilant.

‘‘The United States is and will remain a Pacific power. But we also remember the warning from those who survived Pearl Harbor, and we are increasing our vigilance accordingly,’’ Harris said. ‘‘Today, we are focused as we listen for the sound of the alarms.’’

Max Cleland, a former US senator from Georgia, choking back tears at times, spoke of his father who served in the Navy during the war.

‘‘He was my hero,’’ Cleland said in his keynote address.

‘‘For all the Pearl Harbor survivors, thank you for teaching us all how to survive,’’ Cleland said. ‘‘How to not just survive but how to strive, to turn things around. And how to ultimately thrive in life.’’

Cleland, who lost both legs and his right arm fighting in the Vietnam War, is currently secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. The commission is responsible for managing overseas cemeteries for fallen American troops.

Governors Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and Jan Brewer of Arizona were among those attending.

Brewer said it was an honor to be there among the survivors.

‘‘Pearl Harbor was such a horrific tragedy in the US but it makes me proud to know that the men here are the fabric of what America is made of,’’ Brewer said in a statement after the ceremony.

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