Attack on Pearl Harbor
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Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary commemoration

7 December 2011 Last updated at 02:30 GMT

On 7 December the United States commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the event which launched the US into World War II.

The surprise attack in 1941 killed more than 2,400 Americans and damaged eight of the Hawaiian naval base's battleships.

The BBC spoke to Robert Van Druff, who witnessed the attack as a 22-year-old serving on the USS Aylwin. He was reading a Popeye comic at the time the first bombs were dropped and recalls thinking at first that there had been a fire on a nearby ship.

Following the attack, Japanese-Americans suffered a severe backlash. Senator Daniel Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, helped treat Pearl Harbor's wounded. Once the ban on Japanese-Americans in the US military was lifted he went on to serve with distinction and is now the longest-sitting member of the United States Senate.

Video by Bill McKenna and Elizabeth Davies