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Jed Boal ReportingSixty-four years ago today Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and drew the United States into World War II. Shortly before 8:00 that morning about 400 Japanese war planes launched an attack on the home port of the United State's Pacific fleet. More than a dozen ships and 200 US war planes were destroyed in the attack.
24-hundred people died and another 12-hundred were injured. Twenty-one Utahns died that day; many more survived the assault. The remaining survivors will always remember the chaos, destruction and death.
Utah survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor insist that we never forget, so they gather each year to honor their fallen comrades and remind us of the significance of that day.
December 7th, 1941 bombs and bullets showered US battleships. Japanese torpedoes hit their targets. Forty-seven Utahns who survived the attack are still alive today. Those that can, gather at 10:55 a.m. Mountain Time to honor the 21 Utahns killed.
Kenneth Potts, USS Arizona Veteran: "To show respect for the ones that didn't make it."
Kenneth Potts of Provo stood on the deck of the USS Arizona. He still struggles with the painful memories nearly every day.
Kenneth Potts: "You don't forget it. You don't want to forget it."
The Arizona lost nearly 1200 men of the three thousand military personnel killed. When the ship sank, it entombed most of the crewmen who were killed. Those who lived were left changed.
Kenneth Potts: "You became a man. You go from not caring about anything, into an altogether different world."
Ralph Wadley, Pearl Harbor Survivor: "It was just chaos, they kept diving. We didn't get bombed thank God."
Ralph Wadley of Salt Lake was in the barracks that day with his brother.
Ralph Wadley: "We grabbed machine guns, put them on the roof. I don't think we hit anything."
He wants younger generations to know the date that will live in infamy.
Ralph Wadley: "I think it's important because we're all getting old, and we're going to be gone one of these days."
The Japanese sank eight American battleships and damaged 13 other vessels, among them the USS Utah. A day later, President Franklin Roosevelt asked congress to declare war.
Two of the Utah Pearl Harbor survivors will speak at the Salt Lake City Library next Monday at 7 p.m.