Pearl Harbor Echos – Poignancy Added to Anniversary


Pearl Harbor Survivor Sam RichiusaLos Angeles Daily News, December 2001

OAHU, Hawaii

WHAT a difference 60 years makes, or does it? Friday marked the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the “date that will live in infamy,” which brought America into World War II. This event was commemorated by the release of blockbuster movies, a flurry of published books and a rash of articles all viewed with a new layer of concern in light of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In search of a new understanding of the importance of Dec. 7, 1941, I accompanied my father, Sam Richiusa of Camarillo, to a 60-year reunion with his comrades-in-arms, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. There are less than 7,000 survivors still living, and each of them has a story that widens the eyes of the listener.

Approximately 3,500 of these “heroes from history” gathered at the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery and the Arizona Memorial Monument at exactly the same time (7:55 a.m.) as the original attack to honor the dead for their sacrifice and the living for their courage. My father was a corporal in the Marines in 1941, assigned to the engineering branch of the services, responsible for building airfields, etc. On that day (only four days prior to his 22nd birthday) he was leaving for an early breakfast from the parade ground where his unit was housed when suddenly, “We were being strafed. Explosions were everywhere.”

About 178 marines were either killed or wounded in the attack. There was a total of 3,600 casualties (about 100 less than current estimates at the trade center).