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80 years later, Pearl Harbor remembered at Little Creek

The region's last living uniformed Pearl Harbor survivor died in 2019.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It's the 80th anniversary of the date that President Franklin Roosevelt said "will live in infamy."

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, launched America into World War II.

Tuesday at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, the Navy paused to honor the 2,403 Americans who died that day, and, the survivors who've died since.

In a harsh reminder of the passage of time, Hampton Roads lost its last living Pearl Harbor survivor, Paul Moore, two years ago in 2019, when he passed away at age 97.

"They are America's greatest generation," said Captain Michael Witherspoon, Little Creek's Commanding Officer. "They are our nation's everlasting heroes, called to serve in this nation's darkest hour."

It was the return of a beloved local tradition, after having taken one year off last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susie Rice was a 3-year old child in Honolulu the day the attack happened.

"I think it's so wonderful that we brought this ceremony back," she said. "I've come for years to this ceremony. I was pleased to be here to remember all or sailors on that particular day."

Nine years after Pearl Harbor, survivor Frank Chebetar passed away, his children Ellen and Gerald made sure they were here for this ceremony.

They say it's critical that December 7 is always remembered.

"We try to impress on the young people how important all of this is," said Gerald Chebetar.

Added his sister Ellen Burns: "I would say it's just part of a family ritual for us being able to talk with folks, being able to have Dad tell his stories. It's just  something that the family looks to all of the time."

In April, the remains of a local Pearl Harbor sailor were returned to the U.S. mainland after more than 79 years.

20-year-old Fireman First Class "Howard D. Hodges" was from Washington, North Carolina.

His battleship, the West Virginia, was hit by seven torpedoes and two bombs.

With the help of DNA technology, his remains were identified, after all these years.

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