Chief of Naval Operations Honors Pearl Harbor Survivors, WWII Veterans


On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the chief of naval operations paid tribute to World War II veterans and the men and women who serve around the globe today.

The chief of Naval Operations, Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, speaks at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The gala was part of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
The chief of Naval Operations, Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, speaks at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
The chief of Naval Operations, Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, speaks at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The gala was part of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
December 7th Remembered
The chief of Naval Operations, Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, speaks at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161206-D-BN624-018

Navy Adm. John M. Richardson spoke here yesterday at the "December 7th Remembered" gala, as part of events commemorating the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

"Today I am humbled by the call to serve," Richardson said, lauding the veterans of the "Greatest Generation" who served with humility and dedication.

"I am inspired by the brave sailors who gave their lives on [the battleship USS] Arizona, by the heroes that fought in the Pacific and witnessed the peace treaty signed on [the battleship USS] Missouri, and by all those who raise their right hand and take an oath to serve our country," he said.

Pearl Harbor survivors and other World War II veterans demonstrated "what it means to serve," Richardson said. They took an oath and lived by it, he added.

Greatest Generation

The Pearl Harbor survivors could have never imaged what was to come that Sunday morning, "that their oath to the constitution would demand the ultimate sacrifice," the admiral said.

Ray Chavez, the oldest living World War II veteran at age 104, rings the "Freedom Bell" at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The bell, which is displayed in various cities, was cast in bronze with steel from the Twin Towers. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Ray Chavez, the oldest living World War II veteran at age 104, rings the "Freedom Bell" at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The bell, which is displayed in various cities, was cast in bronze with steel from the Twin Towers. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Ray Chavez, the oldest living World War II veteran at age 104, rings the "Freedom Bell" at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The bell, which is displayed in various cities, was cast in bronze with steel from the Twin Towers. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
December 7th Remembered
Ray Chavez, the oldest living World War II veteran at age 104, rings the "Freedom Bell" at the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. The bell, which is displayed in various cities, was cast in bronze with steel from the Twin Towers. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161206-D-BN624-023

"They were caught by surprise in a very short period of time but even in that surprise, their dedication was evident in so many ways," he said. "They manned their battle stations, they manned their guns, they fought back with the toughness that we can barely conceive of today."

There were 15 Medals of Honor awarded for actions that day, Richardson said.

Those who survived Pearl Harbor were then tasked with taking the fight to the enemy in four years of extremely hard fighting, before the peace treaty ending the war was signed on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, he said.

In the end, the World War II veterans ultimately triumphed due to the power of their determination, he said.

"It is perhaps a measure of that dedication to something bigger than themselves that characterized our fight throughout that war and our approach to victory," he said.

The sense of humility at the end of a difficult war is a lesson for everyone, he said. 

Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Coles attends the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Coles attends the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Coles attends the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
December 7th Remembered
Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Coles attends the "December 7th Remembered" gala honoring Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans in Honolulu, Dec. 6, 2016. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando
VIRIN: 161206-D-BN624-005

Today's Service Members

Richardson said he is proud of the sailors and all members of today's military who serve around the globe defending the nation's freedom. They draw inspiration from the examples set by the World War II generation, he said.

"Our young sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines today are the most talented and qualified ever seen," he said. "Even after 15 years of continuous war, they continue to raise their right hand and take that same oath to support and defend our Constitution."

Those who serve today embody the best qualities, he pointed out. "They demonstrate every day integrity, initiative and accountability and they are ready to give their lives if called and many have done so," he said.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)