Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band welcomed a lively crowd of active-duty military and visitors with spirited music at the historic Bloch Arena on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to open the Fox Sports1 Pearl Harbor Invitational basketball tournament spanning December 6-7.
In the first year Bloch Arena opened, the arena hosted "The Battle of Music 1941," with musicians competing in the semi-finals on December 6, 1941. The finals were to be held on Dec. 20, but the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu cancelled everything.
Today, 75 years later, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brent Mitchell, assigned to U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, fills the space with his rendition of the national anthem, kicking off the invitational.
Pearl Harbor is Mitchell's first duty station and 2016 his first year in the Navy. Mitchell described the experience to perform at Bloch Arena 75 years after the attack.
"The whole band that was stationed here in Hawaii, on the USS Arizona. They were all killed when the Arizona was attacked," said Mitchell. "To be able to represent them and represent the Navy as a whole, it's a very humbling experience."
The tournament included Princeton and Seton Hall Universities and Universities of California and Hawaii. As the first game came to an end, University of California gained the lead against Princeton University and pulled away with a final score of 62-51.
Jabari Bird, a senior player from the University of California, spoke about the toughness his team displayed in order to come back at the end for the win.
"We have this mantra, together we attack," said Bird. "We have to be one cohesive group to go out there and complete the mission on the court and it's the same with the military."
During his reflection, Mitchell drew a parallel from the camaraderie seen in the basketball tournament to the cohesion found in military service.
"They're a team just like the Navy is a team," said Mitchell. "They work together for a common goal, to win the game. The Navy works together for a common goal to keep our country safe. The band works together for a common goal to promote the Navy, work with the community."
Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, was also in attendance for the first day of games. He recognized the World War II veterans who were in the crowd.
"We are grateful for those Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans that fill a living legacy that all make our nation so great and for you Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, you're a part of their legacy," said Brown. "Together, we stand on the shoulders of the greatest generation. Let's not forget those who came before us, and the hard work and sacrifice they made on behalf of all of us."
Princeton came out on top at the end of day two against Hawaii, 75-62, Dec. 7, to win the Fox Sports Pearl Harbor Invitational.
"I feel it's an extreme honor to play during the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor for such a historic event," said Bird.
The invitational concluded Dec. 7, with Seton Hall emerging victorious over California, 60-57, to take the tournament.
Dec. 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. The invitational is part of a series of remembrance events throughout the week to honor the courage and sacrifices of those who served during Dec. 7, 1941, and throughout the Pacific Theater.