For the fifth year in a row, Lou Conter made the trip to Honolulu from his Alta Sierra, California, home to remember his USS Arizona shipmates who died in the surprise air attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941. Before the 73rd commemoration ceremony started on the Pearl Harbour Visitor Centre's main lawn on Sunday morning, Conter said he and other survivors started gathering in Honolulu in 1991, and he now plans to come every year that he's able. It's not about him, he noted. "It's to pay respects to the 2,400 who died that day, 1,177 on the Arizona," the 93-year-old said. Seated next to him in the front row, fellow Pearl Harbour survivor John Mathrusse agreed. The 91-year-old had been near the Pacific Fleet on Ford Island when Japanese planes flew overhead and started dropping bombs that would claim 2,403 lives and mark the United States' first battle of the second world war. As bombs fell, Mathrusse said he fired at the planes with his rifle. "It didn't do any good but it sure made me feel better," he added. Conter and Mathrusse were among more than 50 veterans who attended the ceremony, which drew about 2,500 guests - among them four of the nine remaining USS Arizona survivors. It was part of a nationwide remembrance day, commemorated at different US sites. On Oahu, guests sat facing Pearl Harbour, where 21 vessels were sunk or damaged, along with 323 military planes.