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Remembering Pearl Harbor attack 75 years later

It was a "day that would live in infamy," the day that the United States was attacked by the military forces of Japan at the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The attack on Dec. 7, 1941 came as a surprise to the men and women serving in the tropical military compound.

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The U.S. had not yet officially taken up arms in World War II, but it was helping supply Great Britain in the battle with the Nazis. Government officials were also trying to get Japan to stop expanding its military hold in Asia and the Pacific, according to the National World War 2 Museum.

The attack, the brainchild of Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who thought of the attack, and Capt. Minoru Genda, who planned it, came from a book written in 1925. In "The Great Pacific War," author Hector Bywater showed how a fictional attack on the U.S. fleet by the Japanese could potentially pull America into a war. 

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here  

U.S. officials were warned of the attack when a cryptologist, or code breaker, intercepted a message from Japan that asked about ship movements and placement in Pearl Harbor. The code breaker's superior said he would get back to her on Dec. 8. On the morning of Dec. 7, a radar operator on Oahu saw planes heading toward the island and the base, but was told by his superior that they were probably planes that were scheduled to arrive on Pearl Harbor that day and not to worry about it, according to historians at the WW2 Museum.

He was mistaken.

The Japanese sent a declaration of war to the U.S. shortly before the attack, but it was delayed and was not sent to Washington until the bombings began. 

The attack by the Japanese started at 7:55 a.m. after a captain issued the code "Tora, Tora, Tora" to the planes flying over Oahu. The surprise attack was over in just over an hour and a half.

Breaking down the numbers:

  • 353 Japanese aircraft
  • 40 torpedo planes
  • 103 level bombers
  • 131 dive bombers
  • 79 bombers
  • Four heavy carriers
  • 2,403 U.S. personnel killed
  • including 68 civilians
  • 19 ships destroyed or damaged
  • Three aircraft carriers were not in the harbor and were spared
  • 29 Japanese aircraft destroyed
  • 5 Japanese small submarines destroyed
  • 129 Japanese military members killed
  • One Japanese soldier taken prisoner

Six months after the attack, in June 1942, U.S. aircraft carriers sank four Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway, a decisive battle of the U.S. campaign against Japan, which ended in August 1945.

The remains of the USS Arizona sit just under the water at the base. A bridge stretches over the battleship that accounted for nearly half of the deaths during the attack. The crew who gave their lives are still entombed in the hull of the ship.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Posted by Pacific Historic Parks - USS Arizona Memorial on Friday, October 2, 2015

Underwater view of the USS Arizona with plenty of fish. Visitors to the Arizona Memorial can also see fish when looking down from the viewing well.Posted by Pacific Historic Parks - USS Arizona Memorial on Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pearl Harbor continues to be an active military complex. It is the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet as well as a National Historic Landmark.

Each year over the more than 70 years since the attack, aging survivors, whose numbers are dwindling, return to pay their respects to their shipmates who were killed.

Wishing a very happy birthday to Pearl Harbor Survivor Sterling Cale, who turns 95 today! We salute you, sir! As a...Posted by Pacific Historic Parks - USS Arizona Memorial on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

When their time comes, the men who served on the USS Arizona during the attack and survived the deadly morning can be interred with their shipmates ever patrolling the Pacific. As of 2016, the National Park Service says 27 sailors and two Marines have been interred into the hull of the ship. After the ceremony, an urn holding the ashes of the departed are handed to divers, who place it in an area surrounding gun turret number four.

The latest issue of our print publication, Remembrance, is now available online for you to read: https://issuu.com/remembrance/docs/2016_spring_remembrance/1?e=2303271/35593894Posted by Pacific Historic Parks - USS Arizona Memorial on Saturday, May 14, 2016

The honor of returning to Pearl Harbor for their final watch isn't solely for survivors of the Arizona's crew from the day of the attack. Any Pearl Harbor survivor can have his ashes spread over the harbor where his ship was moored during the attack, while members of the Arizona's crew from before Dec. 7, 1941, can have their ashes spread above the historic ship.

WATCH: Military dad shows off twinkle toes with daughter in ballet class

A military dad is showing his true bravery by dancing with his daughter in her ballet class.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Fox News reports that Philip Curry, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, is stationed in the United Kingdom. His daughter, Alison, is taking ballet lessons near Norwich.

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He was brave enough to attend the class with her for the school’s Bring a Family Member to Dance Day last month.

>> Check out the adorable video here

2,000 veterans to shield Dakota Access pipeline protesters

Hundreds of military veterans will act as human shields next week in North Dakota as part of a three-day event aimed at protecting protesters who are attempting to halt a company’s plan to build an oil pipeline in the region.

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Organizers for Veterans Stand For Standing Rock said 2,000 veterans will arrive on Dec. 4 at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Until at least Dec. 7, they will stand beside protesters who oppose the 1,200-mile, four-state Dakota Access pipeline in the first of what is expected to be a series of similar events.

Veterans aim to defend protesters from what organizers described as "assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and (Dakota Access pipeline) security." Organizers encouraged participants to wear some part of their old uniforms, although they discouraged people from wearing their full uniforms or rank signifiers.

In an operations order created for the event, organizers emphasized the need to stay peaceful, despite the increasingly contentious clashes between protesters and police.

>> Related: Dakota Access pipeline protester may lose arm after explosion during hourslong clash with police

A woman from New York suffered serious injuries to her arm last week and faces the possibility of losing the limb after an explosion went off during a run-in between authorities and protesters. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the woman's injury.

Multiple protesters suffered hypothermia as a result of the clash, after law enforcement officers used a water hose on the opposition despite freezing temperatures, according to medics based at Standing Rock. Protesters on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against multiple law enforcement agencies, alleging that they used excessive force on the night of the protest.

"We are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete non-violence to provide a clear representation to all Americans of where evil resides," organizers wrote in the Veterans Stand For Standing Rock operations order. "We are the cavalry."

>> Why are Facebook users checking in to Standing Rock Indian Reservation?

People have gathered for months at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline, which is being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. Critics say it threatens drinking water on the nearby Standing Rock Sioux reservation and cultural sites, although the company behind the pipeline insists it will be safe.

Citing "safety concerns" as wintry temperatures set in over the region, government officials ordered protesters to vacate their camp by Dec. 5. Protest organizers with the Standing Rock Sioux have said they will not leave.

"We are wardens of this land. This is our land and they can't remove us," protester Isaac Weston, who is an Oglala Sioux member from South Dakota, told The Associated Press. "We have every right to be here to protect our land and to protect our water."

WATCH: Military dad surprises daughter at dance performance

An upstate New York military dad had a special surprise for his young daughter: himself.

Soldier surprise homecomingHEARTWARMING SURPRISE! National Guard Specialist Paul Hayhurst, who had been in training for the past 7 months, surprised his 3-year-old daughter Isabella during her dance class. Tap video to hear her priceless reaction. 2wsb.tv/2ggiNIGPosted by WSB-TV on Wednesday, November 16, 2016

>> Watch the video here

Spc. Paul Hayhurst was away from his family for seven months during military training, according to WHAM-TV.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

So when it was time for him to come back, he decided to surprise his 3-year-old daughter, Isabella.

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He organized the surprise with the little girl’s dance studio so that he would pop out of a box during her performance on Monday, and Isabella’s reaction is priceless.

>> Read the full story here from WHAM-TV

>> Watch the news report here

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5 things to know about Veterans Day

The country on Friday will celebrate Veterans Day, a day Congress set aside to “be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

Here are five things to know about the day and its origins:

The date is tied to World War I: In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson asked that Nov. 11, the first anniversary of the armistice of World War I, be recognized by U.S. citizens as a day of “solemn pride.”

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It was a holiday in many states before it was a national holiday. In a 1926 resolution, Congress noted that Nov. 11 was a legal holiday in 27 states. It requested that the president “issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

At one point, the date changed as well. In 1968, a bill meant to help federal employees celebrate holidays with three-day weekends passed to make four holidays, including Veterans Day, fall on Mondays (the others were Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day and Columbus Day). But in 1971, the first year the law was applied (on Oct. 25), there was confusion about whether it was a holiday. In 1978, Veterans Day was returned to Nov. 11.

A committee oversees national planning. That committee was formed by a 1954 proclamation and, in part, chooses sites of regional observances and hosts a national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Military dad comes home early, moves his kids to tears

A military dad surprised his kids with the best gift of all: a Thanksgiving together as a family.

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U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jeremy Freeman was deployed in Afghanistan for seven month, KTVT reports.

He returned home to Keller, Texas on Thursday, just in time to surprise his kids at school.

>> Related: Army veteran surprised with service dog at halftime ceremony

Video shows him surprising his 13-year-old daughter Makenzie as she tried out for her middle school basketball team. His oldest daughter, Lauryn, was surprised during an assembly at her high school.

The youngest child, Stanley, was surprised when he thought he was visiting his sister's school for a pep rally.

>> Related: 4 ways to show your appreciation on Veterans Day

"They had no idea," mom April Freeman told KTVT. "They're so happy."

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Fighter jet accidentally drops training bombs, missile over Michigan

A mechanical failure led to the accidental release of six training bombs and a training missile over the skies of Michigan last month. officials believe.

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WPBN reported that no one was injured when the training munitions, which were not explosive, fell on Oct. 25 from an A-10 Thunderbolt Michigan Air National Guard aircraft. The bombs emit smoke to make their landing spots more visible during training.

The plane was one of a group traveling from Selfridge Air National Guard base outside Detroit to Camp Grayling, about 200 miles northwest of the city.

Officials realized that a rack of training weapons had fallen from one of the jets over Oscoda County, WWTV reported.

"The phase of the flight they were in was prior to arriving to the range, so the operating procedure for that would be to have all weapon systems saved up, so there wouldn't even be any switches, as it were, that were hot at that point," Lt. Col. Matthew Trumble, director of the Camp Grayling Air Gunnery Range, told the news station. "That's why we suspect it was most likely mechanical fault."

The Michigan National Guard told WWTV that the bombs and the missile were recovered near Luzerne.

Trumble called the situation "pretty darn rare."

"In the 20 years I've been doing this, I haven't seen a case like that," he said.

The munitions fell into a remote wooded area away from homes and businesses, WPBN reported.

Authorities are investigating to determine what caused the drop.

National Day of the Deployed: Soldiers and their families honored on social media

In honor of the National Day of the Deployed on Wednesday, social media users are sharing their thanks and well-wishes for soldiers and their families.

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According to Soldiers' Angels, a nonprofit that provides aid and comfort to troops, veterans and their loved ones, the day is dedicated to "all of the brave men and women who have been deployed and are sacrificing, or have sacrificed, their lives to fight for our country. It's also a day that acknowledges their families they are separated from."

>> PHOTOS: Celebrities who served in the military

Want to post a message of support to our troops or share a story about a soldier in your life? Join the conversation on social media with #DayOfTheDeployed or #NationalDayOfTheDeployed.

>> Click here or scroll down to see what people are saying

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Why is the Pentagon going after National Guard bonuses?

A decade after the Department of Defense offered bonuses to soldiers to reenlist to help fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are asking National Guard troops for that money back.

The bonuses, which averaged around $15,000, were a result of overpayments from a fraudulent scheme, federal investigators said.

Now, the Pentagon wants its money back, and is threatening the Guardsmen with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they don’t get it.

Here’s a look at what happened with the payments and what can be done now amid the outrage over the demand for repayment.

Why is the Department of Defense going after soldiers to get bonus money back?

The Department of Defense is looking for millions of dollars in bonuses that were overpaid to National Guardsmen in the early 2000s. The bonuses, along with help to pay off student loans, were offered to get guardsmen to re-enlist and to get new recruits to sign up.

What’s wrong with getting re-enlistment bonuses?

Nothing if it is done per DoD regulations. Widespread fraud and mismanagement by the California Guard led to the overpayment, according to an investigation by the DoD. California National Guard officials, under pressure to meet enlistment targets, offered the bonuses and other incentives to thousands of members, many who were not eligible under Pentagon standards. The California Guard's incentive manager pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million, according to the Department of Justice. 

According to The Associated Press, in 2014, eight current or former members were indicted on federal charges for fraudulently obtaining recruiting referral bonuses.

Who does this affect?

According to the Los Angeles Times, about 11,000 soldiers were included in a Department of Defense audit and about 9,700 are being asked to repay bonuses and student loan aid. According to CNN, Col. Michael Piazzoni, commander of the Soldier Incentive Assistance Center, said the numbers aren’t that big.

According to Piazzoni, 2,000 members were found to have received unauthorized bonus payments amounting to at least $22 million. A portion of an additional 5,400 soldiers who could not show proof they were eligible for the payments they received were also ordered to repay the funds. 

Can’t they just forgive the debt?

The affected soldiers can petition to have the debt waived, and the military has the option to waive the debts, but only on an individual basis. It does not have the authority to issue a blanket waiver. The California National Guard asked Congress to forgive the debts in 2014. That did not happen, as many congressmen said that cost – estimated to be between $70 million and $100 million – was too high.

Some members of Congress have called for the debt to be forgiven, but no action has been taken yet.

Does the DoD offer bonuses often?

Yes, and has for years.

Re-enlistment bonuses are nothing new and are used to keep qualified people in the service. According to the New York Times, the budget for re-enlistment incentives double between 2000 and 2008 to $1.4 billion, the time these bonus were being paid. It was the time the United States was involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Has it happened before?

It has. Earlier this year, the Pentagon's nine-member bomb squad was in a similar situation. According to Military.com, one member of the team committed suicide. The department agreed to forgive the debt for each of the team members individually.

Update From The Associated Press: Facing a public outcry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday (Oct. 26, 2016) ordered the Pentagon to suspend its effort to seek repayments of enlistment bonuses given to thousands of California National Guard members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Carter's decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from congressional Republicans and Democrats who demanded he relieve the burden on Guard members following news reports that soldiers were being asked to repay debts that in some cases totaled more than $25,000. The announcement does not end the reimbursement process, but postpones collection efforts while the Pentagon and Congress look for a long-term solution.

Cheerleaders' decision to take knee during national anthem upsets vets

Several high school cheerleaders' decision to take a knee Friday night while a VFW Color Guard performed at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, isn’t sitting well with some, especially military veterans.

The gesture has made headlines in recent weeks because of NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has refused to stand while the national anthem is played in protest of racial injustice.  

“They don't know what they are doing, them young kids. They don't know what they are doing,” WWII Army veteran Danny Larocco said.  

Larocco said he didn’t take the photo of the cheerleaders kneeling that has circulated online, but he was there in-person. He said that he and his fellow veterans of VFW 402 in Coraopolis were invited to present the colors before the game.   

Instead of standing like everyone else on the field and in the stands 12 out of 15 cheerleaders kneeled, Larocco said.

>> Read more trending stories    

“I was 16 when I enlisted, fighting Japanese. To see them do that and disgrace Coraopolis and that school, it made me sick,” the military veteran said.  

Cornell School District Superintendent Aaron Thomas, however, said he’s standing by his students’ decision to take a knee.  

“This is a classic case that dates back to the ‘60s, and symbolic speech is protected speech,” he said.  

Thomas said the district supports the students' right to free speech, and he said that he was aware some in the cheerleading squad were going to take a knee in a public protest. Thomas, though, said he’s the first to admit their timing could have been better.  

“I apologize to those individuals on Friday night that I saw. Ideally could this have happened on another night? Yeah, but it happened on the night that it did (and) it created healthy discussion within (the) walls of our building,” the superintendent said.  

Larocco said it all comes down to respect.  

“My friends and everybody else that served in the service, they have that right to be respected. We love our flag very much. We fought for it,” he said.  

Thomas said he cannot predict whether the cheerleaders will continue their protest at the next home game, but he said to be on the safe side, security will be increased.

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