By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, March 9, 2015 – The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday paid tribute to the USS Arizona’s 1,177 crewmen who were killed here during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack that brought the United States into World War II.
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. and other visitors, holding handfuls of red rose petals, paused quietly at the Arizona memorial. The visitors then gently released the petals into the blue water and watched in silence as they floated away.
"It is my honor to be here today to remember the service and sacrifice of the men who gave their lives in service on a tragic day that changed the course of history," Winnefeld said.
The Arizona memorial is constructed above the submerged vessel, which is believed to contain the remains of 938 people, explained Amanda Thompson, military liaison for the National Park Service at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
‘Tears of the Arizona’
The oil that continues to leak out of the vessel is called the "tears of the Arizona," she said.
"That oil has been leaking for 73 or so years and will continue to leak for another 80 to 100 years," she said. "The legend says that when the last Pearl Harbor survivor passes away, those tears will stop."
As the handful of the attack’s survivors pass on, they will never be forgotten, Thompson said.
"We will continue the story, and their memory will always live on here," she said.
Winnefeld visited the memorial as he and a group of celebrities rounded out a weeklong USO tour they spent circumnavigating the globe, bringing laughs, music and fun to deployed service members.