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Hawaii Commemorates 70th Pearl Harbor Day, National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Disbands

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More than 5,000 distinguished guests and the general public joined current and former military personnel for the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Dec. 7.

Hosted by the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy, the joint memorial ceremony had the theme: "The Enduring Legacy: Pearl Harbor 1941-2011." Two of the guest speakers for the ceremony were Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Pearl Harbor Survivor Mal Middlesworth.

"It is important for us to thank the survivors of Pearl Harbor; it is important for us to remember the ones who didn't survive," said Mabus. "It is important for us to carry on the legacy of the things that were started here on Dec. 7, 1941, the heroism, the dedication, the patriotism to carry on for future generations."

The ceremony was held on the lawn of the visitor center, which looks directly out to the USS Arizona Memorial situated in Pearl Harbor. More than 300 Pearl Harbor survivors and other WWII veterans attended the annual observance.

At the ceremony, National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association President William Muehleib announced that the association will disband on Dec. 31, 2011.

Muehleib said that due to the apparent diminishing health and age of its members, the organization will not be able to continue to operate. He, however, reassured that the remaining Pearl Harbor survivors will continue to keep close ties with the community and attend future Pearl Harbor events whenever possible.

Ninety-one-year-old John Murphy, a Pearl Harbor survivor from USS Vestal, said he would still try to come back to Hawaii next year for the 71st Pearl Harbor anniversary.

During the ceremony, four F-22 Raptors of the U.S. Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard conducted a missing man formation flyover. The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) performed a pass-in-review with the crew manning the rails as the ship passed alongside the USS Arizona Memorial. Guests observed a U.S. Marine Corps rifle salute and U.S. Pacific Fleet Band's presentation of Echo Taps.

A wreath-laying ceremony and recognition was performed for all the major warships and battle sites. Each Pearl Harbor survivor stood when the name of their respective locations were called.

After the ceremony Mabus led the official party and Pearl Harbor survivors, who traveled aboard a Navy biodiesel boat, in a floral tribute aboard the USS Arizona Memorial.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs