Pearl Harbor survivors in Des Plaines: If we only had warning

 
 
Updated 12/8/2015 4:58 AM
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  • Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Triolo, 95, of Zion salutes during a remembrance ceremony at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines.

      Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Triolo, 95, of Zion salutes during a remembrance ceremony at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Triolo, 95, of Zion is recognized by a crowd of about 60 people who attended a remembrance ceremony Monday in Des Plaines.

      Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Triolo, 95, of Zion is recognized by a crowd of about 60 people who attended a remembrance ceremony Monday in Des Plaines. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Commander Waldemar Kilian, a chaplain at Naval Station Great Lakes near North Chicago, salutes during a wreath presentation at a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony Monday in Des Plaines.

      Commander Waldemar Kilian, a chaplain at Naval Station Great Lakes near North Chicago, salutes during a wreath presentation at a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony Monday in Des Plaines. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • David Reithoffer of Chicago attended a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony Monday in Des Plaines. His father, William, was an anti-aircraft Army gunner at Pearl Harbor.

      David Reithoffer of Chicago attended a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony Monday in Des Plaines. His father, William, was an anti-aircraft Army gunner at Pearl Harbor. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • A Western Union telegram shows William Reithoffer's message to his parents back home in Cleveland -- that everything was all right -- after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

      A Western Union telegram shows William Reithoffer's message to his parents back home in Cleveland -- that everything was all right -- after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Jennifer Seracy lays a wreath during a Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony Monday at the Great Lakes Naval Museum near North Chicago. The presentation honored those killed during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.

      Jennifer Seracy lays a wreath during a Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony Monday at the Great Lakes Naval Museum near North Chicago. The presentation honored those killed during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

It's been 74 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and survivors like Joe Triolo can still clearly recall the events of the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

"It was a surprise. No one knew it was coming. Ships were not in any condition of readiness," said Triolo, who was aboard the USS Tangier when the attack began. "It was almost time for church.

"Had we had any warning, if there had been 10 to 15 minutes of notice, we could have had our guns manned and it might have been a different story," Triolo said.

Triolo, 95, of Zion is a regular attendee of an annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony in Des Plaines, organized by local VFW Post 2992 and brothers Bob and Rick Miller, whose father, Clarence, was a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Triolo was the only survivor to attend Monday's ceremony, held at the Des Plaines Park District's Prairie Lakes Theater. Most of those he knew from the Navy or from meetings of a local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter have died, he said.

Lyle Hancock of Wheeling, who regularly attended the Des Plaines ceremony, died in July. Ed Block, another survivor who attends every year, was at a family funeral Monday, Bob Miller said.

The Millers say they will continue to organize the event as long as they can to keep alive the memory of their dad and others who were at Pearl Harbor.

"It's a pretty heavy responsibility, but it's why we're here today," Bob Miller said. "We are not going to let this memory fade."

Capt. James Hawkins, commanding officer of the Naval Station Great Lakes, gave the keynote address at Monday's ceremony. He said one in four Navy sailors trained at Great Lakes during World War II.

Today, all those who enlist in the Navy undergo boot camp there.

"Every day, we work to guarantee that the legacy of honor, courage and commitment so strongly demonstrated at Pearl Harbor is ingrained in our sailors," Hawkins said.

The North Chicago-area station's museum hosted its own ceremony earlier Monday with a wreath laying and showing of a portion of a World War II documentary.

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