Pearl Harbor ceremony unites former US and Japanese pilots

Today is the 74th anniversary of the attack, which took 2,403 lives and drew the United States into World War Two.

Pearl Harbor ceremony unites former US and Japanese pilots

Honolulu: Former US airman Jack DeTour, 92, and Japanese fighter pilot Shiro Wakita, 88, sworn enemies during World War Two, together poured whiskey from a battered canteen into Pearl Harbor on Sunday to commemorate the 1941 attack on the US naval base.

As the sun rose over the USS Arizona Memorial, the two former enemy pilots joined the "Blackened Canteen" service on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the Dec. 7 attack, which took 2,403 lives and drew the United States into World War Two.

Standing side by side after meeting for the first time ever, retired Air Force Colonel DeTour and former Imperial Japanese Navy Zero Pilot Wakita together gripped the war-torn US military-issue metal canteen and poured whiskey into the watery grave of the US Navy ship sunk by Japanese bombers.

Now a symbol of friendship, the scorched war relic was recovered in 1945 in Shizuoka, Japan after two B-29 US bombers collided overhead. The 23 Americans killed were buried alongside Japanese citizens who died in the bombing raid. Found among the wreckage was the blackened canteen, filled with whiskey, and it was kept in Japan to remember loved ones lost. 

Since the 1980s, Japanese residents have regularly brought it to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony aimed at maintaining peace. 

"To know we have this friendship is great. It`s fantastic," said DeTour, who wore a purple flower lei over his dark suit.

DeTour now lives in Honolulu and was a young man from Oregon when he joined the military in 1942.

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