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Real heroes see Pearl Harbor -- again

"Glenn Nichols of Langley, who was on the USS Raleigh, discusses the attack on Pearl Harbor with Navy Cmdr. Barry Coceano, who's in charge of the unit at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station that organized special seating for a showing of the film Pearl Harbor in Oak Harbor when the film opened nationwide last Friday. The Navy unit also hosted a reception for Pearl Harbor survivors at the CPO Club following the showing.Jon Jensen, staff photoSeveral Western Washington survivors of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor said the new movie about that event is definitely Hollywood's version, but with enough history to be useful for those too young to know what it meant to Americans.A lot of that didn't happen at all, said Glenn Nichols of Langley immediately after seeing the film in Oak Harbor. But he also noted, It showed what can really happen during a war. Normally (in a movie) you don't see all the bodies. He was among about two dozen members of this area's chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association who were VIP guests at a showing in Oak Harbor last Friday, the day the film premiered nationwide. They also were honored at a reception afterward at the CPO Club next to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.Nichols' sentiments were echoed by other survivors. It was a little overdone, said Glenn Lane of Oak Harbor, who was on the USS Arizona and then swam to the USS Nevada before it also was severely damaged. Lane thought the film was reasonably accurate, although he and other veterans immediately realized by the shape of the bow that a new generation of ships was standing in for the originals.Lane also was grateful the film conveyed some sense of the horror of the way men died that day. Young people don't realize there's no glory in it, he said. Recalling his shipmates on the Arizona, Lane said, For a long time I couldn't fathom it, how they died - a lot of good friends. Both he and Nichols often speak to school students and community groups about that day and its lessons for this country. The movie is something America needs, several survivors said. The survivors and family members were seated in about seven rows in the back of the theater before the public was admitted. After the theater filled, Navy Master Chief Bill Tyrrell had all the survivors stand. He led the audience in applauding them, something that occurred spontaneously following the film as the veterans were ushered out.The film also was preceded by the playing of the national anthem, something older members of the audience remembered as being common in theaters.The Navy's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program paid for the tickets for the special guests, as well as popcorn and soft drinks, which were delivered to the VIPs by active duty sailors. The reception at the Chief Petty Officers Club included a display of photos from Pearl Harbor, some cake and coffee, and time for the survivors to tell their stories to a handful of reporters. At the reception, Tyrrell told the veterans, This was a pretty moving experience for me, and he admitted he had tears in his eyes at times during the film.Later Tyrrell said he had the idea for the VIP showing and reception after seeing a preview of the film a few months ago.He and other active-duty Navy personnel involved were clearly pleased and honored to spend time with the unique veterans. He noted that fewer and fewer of these men, most now in their 80s, are alive each year.At a time when the word 'hero' seems to be thrown around like candy, these people are true heroes, Tyrrell said. "

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