Locals will gather at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum downtown on Friday to remember the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Expected in the crowd is USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton, one of five men living who escaped the doomed battleship during the Japanese surprise attack. The event is set for 11 a.m. at the museum, 215 S. Tejon St.

Landlocked Colorado Springs is one of the few towns in America that has consistently held a ceremony to honor the sacrifices of Dec. 7, 1941. The ceremonies were held outside in Memorial Park for years before they were moved inside to accommodate the frail health of the dwindling number of local World War II veterans.

Memories of Iwo Jima still haunt Colorado Springs veteran

“For a town so glued to our national defense, something like Pearl Harbor really needs to stay in our culture,” said organizer John O’Donnell. “That was a seminal moment in the history of the world. It has impacts that are still being felt today.”

Afloat again

More than a year after slamming into a merchant ship in the Malacca Strait off Singapore, the destroyer USS John McCain has left a drydock in Japan.

The McCain’s 2017 collision with a freighter in the strait prompted a major Navy review of its at-sea practices in the wake of mishaps that killed 17 sailors, include 10 McCain crewmen.

A report on the McCain incident found that commanders failed in areas including crew training, navigation rules, and keeping a proper watch.

Getting the McCain back in the fleet is a work in progress. The freighter struck McCain’s port side, caving in the hull below the waterline and flooding compartments. The hit also damaged the ship’s propulsion system, taking out the port shaft.

“Today, McCain has a fully restored hull, a new port thrust shaft, and newly constructed berthing spaces,” the Navy said in a news release.

Much work remains before McCain can return to the high seas. “Over the next few months, efforts will focus on testing the repaired ship’s systems in preparation for a return to operational tasking,” the Navy said.

The McCain incident apparently marked a turning point for the Navy. Since the wreck, the Navy has gone on to post one of the safest years it has had at sea.SANTA MAKES EARLY STOP

The North American Aerospace Defense Command was thought to have the local monopoly on tracking Santa Claus, but some folks at Fort Carson may have the inside track, too.

Santa, or at least some of his elves, were credited with paying off more than $1,000 in layaway payments at Carson’s post exchange.

The Exchange Service teamed with charity layaway angels to pay the tabs Thursday, leaving some local families with few holiday bills to pay.

“Exchange managers will be surprising families letting them know that their layaway balance has been paid in full,” the Exchange Service said in an email.

NORAD, meanwhile, while fire up the command’s Santa-tracking apparatus up in earnest this weekend. You can follow along online at noradsanta.org.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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