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Five survivors of Pearl Harbor attack honored on LI

Five Pearl Harbor survivors were honored for their service during a ceremony at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale on Friday that paid tribute to the more than 2,400 American lives lost when Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base 71 years ago. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Dec. 7, 2012)

As a chaplain blessed 71 red roses -- one for every anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor -- five survivors looked on in a chilly airplane hangar Friday.

Following the solemn observance at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, the flowers were loaded on a World War II-era plane.

Minutes later, the roses were dropped over the Statue of Liberty -- continuing a tradition started in 1970 by another Pearl Harbor survivor, the late Joseph Stanley Hydrusko, of Massapequa.

In Hawaii Friday, a Navy guided-missile destroyer named after a Long Island serviceman sounded its whistle at 7:55 a.m., marking the time the Japanese surprise attack began.

Crew members lined the deck of the USS Michael Murphy, named for the Navy SEAL who was mortally wounded in combat in 2005 while serving in Afghanistan. Murphy, a native of Smithtown who grew up in Patchogue, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

The East Farmingdale event was put together by the Long Island chapter of The Air Force Association, and those in attendance included veterans, firefighters, police officers and elected officials.

The five Pearl Harbor survivors sat facing the audience, with the Massapequa High School Band in the rear of the hangar providing the music.

Former Navy radio man Richard Abeles, 91, of Brentwood, leaned into a questioner and apologized for his failing hearing. He said he was below-decks on the destroyer USS Dale on Dec. 7, 1941. "I was the last one in the mess hall, and I heard a tremendous explosion on the outside," Abeles said.

"I went topside and what I saw was one of the enemy planes coming right toward us . . . The roar was terrible . . . I could see the torpedo drop and a few moments later, one of our ships blew up."

The commander of the Dale was later praised for getting the destroyer under way quickly. There were no casualties on board, and the crew was credited with shooting down at least one enemy plane.

The other four survivors who attended yesterday's ceremony were identified as Gerald Barbosa, of East Meadow, who had served on the USS Raleigh; Seymour Blutt, Hickam Field; and Michael Montelione, of Massapequa, and Bernard Berner, both of whom served at Schofield Barracks.

More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, including 1,177 crew members of the battleship USS Arizona, which sank in less than nine minutes. It was the deadliest single attack on U.S. soil until Sept. 11, 2001. With AP

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