U.S. Department of Defense Header Image (click to return to U.S. Department of Defense homepage)
Search DefenseLink.mil
Jul. 28, 2015  War on Terror   Transformation   News Products   Press Resources   Images   Websites   Contact Us 
Title:  Remembering Pearl Harbor
Port Everglades, Fla. (Dec. 7, 2004) – A Pearl Harbor Survivor throws a commemorative wreath into the waters of Port Everglades, Fla., during the 63rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) arrived to Port Everglades December 6 to take part in the event. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Christian Knoell

Vet Recalls Attack, continued

"I remember getting these cases of ammo powder and shells weighing about 90 pounds each," he said. "I had begun lifting shells into the hoist when a deafening roar filled the room and the entire ship shuddered."

The explosion was the ship's forward magazines exploding after a hit by an armor-piercing Japanese bomb. "Only moments before, I stood with my gun crew just a few feet from the center of the explosion," Phraner said. "My whole gun crew was killed."

Phraner was in the dark, and smoke quickly filled

the compartment. He was burned as he climbed up the ladders.

Getting through that choking kind of smoke was a real ordeal - the kind of smoke that really hurt your lungs," he said. "After awhile, I began to get weak and lightheaded. I could feel myself losing the battle to save my own life. I hung to the ladder, feeling good. I felt that it was all right for me to let go."

But he looked up and saw a speck of light and he kept climbing.

"After what seemed to me like an eternity, I reached the deck gasping and choking. I lay down for a few moments," he said.

"The warm Hawaiian air filled my lungs and cleared my head. I glanced over to the forward end of the ship to see nothing but a giant wall of flame and smoke. Behind me, a Marine lay dead on the deck, his body split in two. I began to realize there were dead men all around me."

The Arizona was doomed. Phraner abandoned ship, swam to Ford Island and would live to serve on other Navy ships throughout the Pacific War.

The Arizona remains where it sank and its stripped, sunken hull still seeps oil even after 60 years. It is the tomb of many of the 1,177 crewmembers known to have died the attack.

The National Park Service operates a hall-

USS Arizona burning at Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941
Sailors assigned to the ceremonial guard Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, practice early in the morning before the 63rd commemoration of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 2004. More than 200 distinguished visitors and Pearl Harbor survivors attended the ceremony, which included the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) rendering honors, more than 40 wreath presentations, a 21-gun salute, and a missing man flyover. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Ryan C. McGinley

like,184-foot-long memorial building that sweeps over the ship's beam.

Contrary to popular legend, the USS Arizona is no longer in commission. As a special tribute to the ship and its lost crew, however, the Stars and Stripes fly from a flagpole attached to the ship's severed mainmast.

In 1998, another famous battleship docked near the Arizona Memorial, bringing a kind of closure to the Pearl Harbor experience. That fitting symbol was the USS Missouri. The Japanese boarded the Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, to sign the instruments of surrender.

Related Links
USS Arizona Memorial  
Earth Observing 1Satellite - Aerial View  
Naval Historical Center - Pearl Harbor Raid
Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration
National Archives and Records Admin
The Coast Guard During Attack
Hickam Air Force Base
Library of Congress: "Man-on-the-Street"
Americans Remember Pearl Harbor
U.S. Navy in Hawaii
A Grateful Nation Remembers
 Site Map   Privacy & Security Notice   About DoD   External Link Disclaimer   Web Policy   About DefenseLINK   FirstGov.gov