Pearl Harbor survivor attends local ceremony on 76th anniversary of attack

ST. GEORGE — Joining in with commemorations across the country, local veterans and civilians observed Pearl Harbor Day at Tonaquint Cemetery Thursday morning.

Dozens of veterans and family members attended the short ceremony. Highlights included flags being raised, then lowered to half-staff as taps was played by a bugler, the laying of a wreath on the cemetery’s Pearl Harbor monument and a 21-gun salute at the finale.

Pearl Harbor survivor John Endicott, 94, attends Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at Tonaquint Cemetery, St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Special recognition was given to Ivins resident and Pearl Harbor survivor John Endicott, 94, who was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station Kaneohe on Ford Island, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, when the first two waves of Japanese aircraft attacked the facilities prior to attacking naval fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Thursday’s ceremony in St. George took place starting at precisely 10:48 a.m., which corresponds to 7:48 a.m. Hawaii time, exactly 76 years after the Sunday morning surprise aerial attack that took the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. military personnel and launched the United States into World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it a “date which will live in infamy.”

Veterans perform a 21-gun salute during Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at Tonaquint Cemetery, St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

President Donald J. Trump paid special tribute in the White House Thursday flanked by several Pearl Harbor survivors.

Trump tweeted: “Today, as we Remember Pearl Harbor, it was an incredible honor to be joined with surviving Veterans of the attack on 12/7/1941. They are HEROES, and they are living witnesses to American History. All American hearts are filled with gratitude for their service and their sacrifice.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued the following written statement in connection with National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day:

“Today is one of our country’s most sacred days of remembrance. We owe so much to the Greatest Generation, many of whom gave everything in defense our nation and world. We owe special gratitude to the veterans of WWII, who bravely defended liberty and opposed the dark forces of nationalism and hatred that threatened to sweep the world.

“I was humbled to stand alongside a number of these veterans when I had the great honor of joining them in Washington D.C. at the WWII Memorial as part of Utah Honor Flight this fall. Their strength and dedication were truly inspiring. On this day, we honor their memory and give thanks for their service and sacrifice.”

Herbert also directed the U.S. and Utah state flags be flown at half-staff at all state facilities from sunrise to sunset Thursday.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at Tonaquint Cemetery, St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

American Legion Post 90 Commander Marti Bigbee said after a couple years of not having any living survivors of Pearl Harbor in attendance at the annual ceremony, she was pleased to recently learn of Endicott, who resides in a veterans home in Ivins.

“Anytime we’ve got a survivor, we need to honor them.” Bigbee said. “We can’t forget this. We have to teach our children and also ourselves.”

“That was a day we lost a lot of heroes in an unprovoked attack,” said Kent Hardman of the Patriot Guard Riders club, which offers support to veterans at funerals and other special occasions. Helping commemorate their legacy “really means a lot to us,” he added.

Endicott spent a few minutes before Thursday’s ceremony in St. George relating some of his firsthand experiences, including seeing the Japanese planes drop bombs and torpedoes on the ships docked in the harbor. After the ceremony was over, several well-wishers came up to greet him and shake his hand. Bigbee handed him one of the spent shell casings from the 21-gun salute to keep as a memento.

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1 Comment

  • Utahguns December 7, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Mr. John Endicott,
    Thank you Sir for your service to this country.

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