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Pearl Harbor Day: A survivor recalls the Day of Infamy (video)

Pearl Harbor Day: Navy vet Lou Gore recalls what he saw Dec. 7, 1941 on the deck of the USS Phoenix. Today is the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor day attack.

By Suzanne RoigReuters / December 7, 2011

The USS Utah Memorial is seen before the start of an internment ceremony for Pearl Harbor survivor Lee Soucy, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 in Honolulu.

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

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Honolulu

Seventy years ago today, Navy veteran Lou Gore was startled by the muffled thuds of explosions and a burst of commotion while cleaning up from breakfast below deck on the USS Phoenix, a cruiser docked at Pearl Harbor.

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Hurrying topside, the 18-year-old seaman second-class was confronted by pandemonium he was unable to immediately comprehend -- flames shooting skyward, roiling clouds of dark, acrid smoke, swarms of fighter-bombers buzzing low overhead.

Within moments that Sunday morning, it became clear that the U.S. Pacific fleet was under attack. As reflexes from training took over, Gore and others aboard the Phoenix jumped into action and began firing back with anti-aircraft guns.

IN PICTURES: Pearl Harbor remembered

"We didn't know (at first) those were Japanese planes," Gore, now 88 and visiting the islands with nine members of his family, recalled in a recent interview. "We didn't know what was happening. I just did my job."

Gore is one of 100 PearlHarbor Survivors who will attend ceremonies on Wednesday on Oahu marking the 70th anniversary of the Japanese air and naval assault that claimed 2,390 American lives and drew the United States into World War II.

Nearly half of those who perished were sailors aboard the battleship USS Arizona, which Japanese torpedo bombers sank early in the attack, sending 1,177 of its 1,400-member crew to their deaths.

The USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of the ship, now forms a centerpiece of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, an historic site administered by the National Park Service.

'BODIES EVERYWHERE'

Gore's vessel, the Phoenix, was anchored a short distance from the stretch of harbor known as Battleship Row, where the Arizona was moored when it was hit.

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