Cape Girardeau veterans remember Pearl Harbor - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Cape Girardeau veterans remember Pearl Harbor

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- A solemn day as veterans paid their respects to the 2,335 service members who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor. Friday marks 77 years since the attack, which caused the U.S. to enter into World War II. 

Roy Rhodes, Commander for American Legion Post 63, began the ceremony with a few words on the history of the state's remembrance of the attack. 

"It makes me feel good to honor my bothers and sisters," he says. "We almost lost the whole pacific fleet there. The ones that weren't sank, were destroyed pretty well to beyond repair." 

Members of other local veteran groups cast red, white and blue wreaths into the Mississippi River and paused to remember Clippard Wilson Taylor, who was the first service member from Cape Girardeau to die in World War II. 

Richard Hengst. was born several year after Taylor died, but would be his first cousin if he were still alive. Hengst says his relative was only stationed in Pearl Harbor a few months before the attack. 

"I think when he joined, he probably came in as an E1. He just got promoted and then he left for Pearl Harbor," he explains. 

Taylor was aboard the USS Utah when the Japanese targeted the ship with six torpedoes. It's believed he's among the first American service members to die in the attack and his body was never recovered. 

Hengst and Rhodes worry that the memories of those like Taylor are fading away. "The way history is now, and the way the schools are. I think they need to be teaching more of this history," Hengst says. 

They just hope younger veterans will step up to carry on the Pearl Harbor ceremony tradition. "Once we're all gone our brothers that follow behind us will take our place," Rhodes says. 

The USS Utah is now a memorial, but is not included on any tours of Pearl Harbor. It can only be visited by those with a military I.D. 

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