Local, national ceremonies remember 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor

FILE - In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, part of the hull of the capsized USS Oklahoma is seen at right as the battleship USS West Virginia, center, begins to sink after suffering heavy damage, while the USS Maryland, left, is still afloat in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, File)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday marks 75 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The attack killed more than 2,400, wounded more than 1,000 others, and lead to the United States joining World War II.

75 years ago, the AP reported on Pearl Harbor

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called this day in 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”

Dozens of survivors have traveled to Hawaii to remember those who lost their lives. Ceremonies are scheduled all across the country Wednesday in remembrance of the attack.

Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story hosted its annual ceremony for survivors Wednesday afternoon.

Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, was the guest speaker at the event.

“They’re heroes to us now, those World War II veterans who suffered,died, and fought for our liberty,but the truth is they were the youth of America. Many of them were still teenagers called to serve, hoping, praying to do their best,” Davidson said.

The annual ceremony was a reminder to survivors, friends and families of the Japanese attack more than 70 decades ago.

The survivors who fought were their 90s.

“I just turned 20,” Chesapeake resident Paul Moore said about his age on the day of the attack.

Moore, who’s now 95, says he was serving on board the USS West Virginia and was taking a shower when the first torpedo hit. He says he thought the boiler room exploded and when he went up on deck, he saw the attack.

“The first thing I saw was the Oklahoma capsizing and that’s all it was,” he said.

Moore says he jumped overboard and swam to Ford Island. He says the attack did not stop him from continuing to serve in the Army.

“I volunteered the next day for another ship, the USS Dale, and it went to the Pacific,” Moore said.

Kathy Chebetar Dempsey and her family attended the ceremony Wednesday, like they do every year, to remember her father, Frank Chebetar.

“Dad was 19. He was getting ready to go out on the Liberty at quarter till 8:00, and all of the sudden, they said, ‘This is not a drill.’ Pop went for his gun. He helped that day by shooting down a plane. He lost many shipmates, many friends during the war,” she said.

Dempsey says Chebetar continued to serve in the Navy until 1960 before retiring, then worked as a civilian employee for decades after. She says her father was the previous president for the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Tidewater Chapter Two before dying in 2012.

Chebetar says the anniversary of Pearl Harbor is a sad reminder of the constant battle survivors are now facing: Time.

“This day is a huge memory — a poignant memory of our father and the sadness he always felt. It was hard for us to come sometimes, because he was so sad in losing other members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association that we’re getting fewer members every year,” she said.

While the anniversary can be a reminder of the aging generation, Gerald Chebetar, Dempsey’s brother, says it’s also a great example of the people future generations should strive to be like.

“The young folks of today and even my generation need to continue patriotism to celebrate life in the United States of America,” Chebetar said.