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Jed Boal reporting Sixty-six years ago today, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, thrusting the United States into World War II.
Twenty-one Utah men died in that attack; two posthumously received the Medal of Honor. Remaining survivors still gather each year to honor their fallen comrades, but today's ceremony could be last of its kind.
In 1941, these men were at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked at 7:55 a.m. The bell tolls for each of the 21 Utahns killed that day.
Five of the seven active members in the Utah chapter honored those who gave their lives that day.
"There was all kinds of commotion going on. There was a big fireball in the navy yard," explained Pearl Harbor survivor Marion Kesler.
Kesler is from Taylorsville and was on the deck of the USS Hulbert when he saw the first wave of bombers sweep in. Images remain vivid in his mind. Below deck, other troops ate breakfast. He saw the USS Arizona capsize with more than 1,000 men on board. "We want to keep it so it doesn't drop out of the pages of history," Kesler said.
Ken Potts was on the upper deck of the Arizona. The memories are so painful he cannot talk about the attack.
As their numbers dwindle, members feel it's time to disband all local chapters. So next year, Utah survivors will attend a national convention in Texas.
"We're happy to be here. Happy to see another Dec. 7 come by and be able to be here," Pearl Harbor survivor Larry Smethurst said.
Four Utah survivors died this year. Future ceremonies will never be the same.
While the Pearl Harbor Survivors' chapters will be disbanded, their sons and daughters will carry on the honors each year.