It's believed there are only four survivors of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor still living in Minnesota as the state commemorates the 76th anniversary of the "Date Which Will Live in Infamy."

Minnesota's official remembrance of the over 2400 U.S. servicemembers and others who were killed or fatally wounded on December 7, 1941, will take place Thursday morning in the Visitor Center Auditorium at Historic Fort Snelling and one of the state's Pearl Harbor survivors will be among the featured speakers. 94-year-old Richard Thill served on the USS Ward, which is credited with firing the first U.S. shot in the war when it sank a Japanese mini-sub trying to enter the harbor. The program, which is free and open to the public begins at 10 a.m.

Two of Minnesota's other survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, Victor Paradis and Charles Sehe, live in the Mankato area, while the fourth survivor, Vern Luettinger lives in Richfield.

This year's Pearl Harbor commemoration will likely carry some extra significance for the families of two Minnesota men who died in the Japanese attack. 24-year-old Glaydon I.C. Iverson of Emmons and 22-year-old Elmer Kerestes were among the 429 men and women who perished when the USS Oklahoma capsized in Pearl Harbor after being struck by 8 Japanese torpedoes.

Like the vast majority of the servicemembers killed aboard the USS Oklahoma, their remains could not be identified and were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. They remained there until the Defense Department began using modern DNA forensic tests in 2015 in hopes of identifying the hundreds of servicemembers so they could be returned to their homes. Both Kerestes and Iverson were positively ID'd and the remains were returned to your family members in Minnesota for burial this summer

Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered all US flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at government facilities in Minnesota from sunrise to sunset on Thursday to honor and remember those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who lost their lives fighting for our nation during World War II.


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