Pearl Harbor ceremony marred by snafu

Pearl Harbor attendants commemorated those lost 70 years ago in a moment of silence but things went wrong at the last minute. 

David Joles/The Star Tribune/AP
Pearl Harbor Day moment of silence: Vetrans Bud Nakasane (l.), Don Pepin (c.), and Bill Wheeler (r.), and his wife Peggy all bowed their heads during a moment of silence at the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Veterans Service Building Wednesday, in St. Paul, Minn. The moment of silence held at Pearl Harbor was almost forgotten when the speaker ran over time.

A snafu marred the critical moment of silence at the Pearl Harbor ceremony Wednesday observing the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack.

Each year, the tradition calls for a moment of silence to start with the sounding of a ship's whistle. The quiet is then broken when military aircraft fly over the USS Arizona Memorial in missing-man formation.

The timing is carefully choreographed so that the moment of silence begins exactly at 7:55 a.m. — the moment Japanese planes began bombing the harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. But on Wednesday, emcee Leslie Wilcox was still speaking at 7:55 a.m., even as the Hawaii Air National Guard's F-22's roared overhead on schedule 42 seconds later.

The moment of silence was held a few minutes late, just before 8 a.m.

It was obvious to those who had attended the commemoration before that something was off, but some in the audience for the first time didn't notice.

It was not clear why the ceremony, which began on time, eventually ran behind schedule.

Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said the Guard has flown in missing-man formation at the annual Pearl Harbor ceremony for at least 30 years and has the timing of the flyover down to the second.

"Our tasking is to be over the target at 7:55 and 42 seconds, which we did," Anthony said. "We have this thing wired."

Anthony said the incident would be reviewed, but he didn't know at what level or what degree of formality.

Wilcox is a former TV anchor and current president of PBS Hawaii.

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