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Japanese Greeted At Pearl Harbor

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Sixty years ago, pilots Taisuke Maruyama and Kamane Harada were among the waves of Japanese fighters who bombed Pearl Harbor, plunging America into World War II.

Earlier this week, they and several dozen fellow pilots who survived the nearly four years of conflict in the Pacific returned to the base — this time as tourists. Their visit is part of a week of observances at Pearl Harbor in memory of Friday’s 60th anniversary of the attacks.

Maruyama and Harada were greeted warmly by Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Speer, a crewman aboard the USS Honolulu who now serves as a volunteer at the USS Arizona visitor center.

“I hold no animosity against them,” he said. “They were doing what they were ordered to do. We were doing what we were trained to do and the Good Book teaches you to forgive.”

Pearl Harbor visitors affiliated with another infamous date were also welcomed. They included some 600 police, fire and rescue workers from New York and the families of emergency employees who were lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Water-spraying fire trucks and fresh flower leis greeted the New Yorkers at the start of their weeklong vacations as guests of the state and Hawaii merchants.

The group was invited by Gov. Ben Cayetano last month while he was in New York attending the American Society of Travel Agents convention.

“We heard about the trip and decided it would be good to get away together,” said Carole Leavey of Pelham, N.Y., who brought son, Brian, 16, and daughter, Caitlin, 10.

Leavey lost her husband, New York Fire Department Lt. Joseph Leavey, in the attacks that toppled the World Trade Center. She buried him on Nov. 13, which would have been his 46th birthday.

The visitors were scheduled Friday to attend a Pearl Harbor anniversary observance, among other activities.

Along with Monday's 600 arrivals, an additional 600 free trips will be available to rescue workers and their family members from New York and Washington throughout 2002.

Meanwhile, the Japanese pilots, many accompanied by their wives, visited memorials at the USS Arizona and USS Missouri, the battleship on which the Japanese surrendered Sept. 2, 1945.

The pilots watched a 23-minute documentary on the Japanese attack at the USS Arizona Visitors Center before visiting the memorial that straddles the sunken battleship, a watery tomb for some 900 crewmen. In all, 2,388 Americans were killed in the attack.

Of all the remembrances documented this week, a few are from the women who were at Pearl Harbor.

Navy nurse Lt. j.g. Lenore Terrell remembers she was finishing the last of her rounds with the doctor the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when a plane with a large red circle painted on it flew over the Navy hospital at Pearl Harbor.

Dorinda Nicholson was 6 years old and remembers chasing after her father as he ran outside their house on the Pearl City peninsula to watch the Japanese planes fly to their targets in Perl Harbor.

Pat Thompson was 10, and remembers getting up early with excitement — she had won a jitterbug contest dancing with a 17-year-old sailor the night before. Dressed in pajamas, she ran outside her family's house on the Navy base and waved at the planes overhead “because I thought they were ours.”

The man who dismissed radar images of incoming planes before the attack as friendly aircraft also shared his perspective, saying the technology six decades ago left him with too little information to see the danger. Kermit Tyler, now 88, also said no one ever thought America would be attacked.

Several years ago, Harry Butowsky, historian for the National Park Service in Washington, interviewed Col. Wilfred H. Tetley, who was in charge of the Army's radar project at the time.

“I asked him what could have been done,” Butowsky said. “He said 'absolutely nothing.”'

Written By BRUCE DUNFORD © MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed