Sixty-six years later

Capt. Mike Mathews leads a slideshow presentation during Friday’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony at Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Capt. Mike Mathews leads a slideshow presentation during Friday’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony at Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals


Staff writer

Larry Todd, 18, was aboard the USS Pennsylvania preparing to go to an 8 a.m. football practice when the emergency alarm sounded.

Todd was one of nearly 15 Pearl Harbor survivors to tell his harrowing tale about the events of Dec. 7, 1941 to a crowd of hundreds during Friday’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport.

Sixty-six years ago, Japanese forces attacked the Pearl Harbor military base killing more than 2,000 people, destroying numerous planes and ships, crippling the United States Pacific Fleet.

Capt. Mike Mathews, retired U.S. Navy, presented the touching ceremony which included a slideshow about the attack with “stories of personal valor exhibited by our military,” according to a news release. Mathews is a former commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor’s Trident Training Facility and now works in the Systems Acceptance and Operational Readiness Department at NUWC Division Keyport.

“With the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Fleet was devastated,” Mathews said.

Navy Band Northwest provided music at the ceremony and the Lake Washington VFW Post 2995 Honor Guard performed.

Capt. Jonathan Dowell, commander of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport, emceed the ceremony and his family has a special tie to Pearl Harbor. Dowell’s grandfather, Jonathan S. Dowell, and father, Steven Dowell, were at the military base in 1941 when it was attacked by Japanese forces. The elder Dowell was the commanding officer of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Lualualei, Hawaii at the time, according to Diane Jennings, NUWC Division Keyport spokeswoman. On the morning of the attack, the elder Dowell rushed into 17-year-old Steven's bedroom and said, “Get up Stevie, they caught us with our pants down!”

Dowell and Mathews passed microphones around the auditorium as the survivors shared their memories of Pearl Harbor. Many men said they were sleeping when the attack began, while others were hard at work on the military base. Tom Berg was aboard the USS Tennessee preparing to finish painting the ship’s boiler room for an upcoming inspection.

The stories of the Pearl Harbor survivors brought some people to tears, but Mathews said their memories and sacrifice will be forever remembered.

“This was a violent struggle from a vicious enemy,” Mathews said. “We will all remember what you did.”

Although the number of living Pearl Harbor survivors is steadily decreasing, Jennings said Keyport hopes to host the remembrance event for many years to come.

“We are honored to do this for the survivors each year and we fully appreciate the sacrifices of the survivors and those who participated in World War II,” she said. “This is something we will continue to do for them as long as we can."

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