Jed Boal ReportingSixty-three years ago today, a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War Two. 21 Utahns were killed that day, and many more survived. Those survivors are determined that we never forget.
December 7th, 1941, bullets and bombs rain from the sky over Pearl Harbor. Japanese torpedoes zero in.
Each year a dwindling number of Utah survivors and their families gather to honor the 21 Utahns killed in the attacks.
Kenneth Potts, USS Arizona Veteran: “To me it’s more or less respect for the ones who didn’t get off.”
Kenneth Potts was on the deck of the USS Arizona that morning. The Provo resident says the painful memories never leave him.
Kenneth Potts/USS Arizona Veteran: "The things that we saw, nobody should see."
The USS Arizona suffered the highest number of Pearl Harbor casualties--1,177. Most of its killed crewmen were entombed when the ship sank. Those on deck not killed by strafing from enemy aircraft, survived.
Kenneth Potts, USS Arizona Veteran: "We all got off before the bomb went down and exploded our ammunition."
Afterwards he was on a salvage crew, recovering the bodies they could.
Kenneth Potts, USS Arizona Veteran: "You're not scared until it's over with, then it's wicked."
21 ships were heavily damaged, among them the USS Utah. It was capsized and remains partially submerged in the harbor; 58 men on board were killed.
In all, nearly 2400 people died at Pearl Harbor. Ralph Wadley of Salt Lake was in the Schofield Barracks.
Ralph Wadley, Pearl Harbor Veteran: “We really didn’t know what was going on until we saw the sun on the planes and knew we were being attacked.”
The army barracks were a dozen miles from the harbor.
Ralph Wadley, Pearl Harbor Veteran: "We could see the smoke and hear the bombs.” "
Nationwide wide 5300 Pearl Harbor survivors remain; one hundred die every month. The Pearl Harbor survivors will speak at the Salt Lake City Library next Thursday, the 16th, at 7 p.m.