JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- Submarine veterans hosted a solemn ceremony in honor of their fallen brethren at USS Parche Park and Submarine Memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11.
Rear Adm. Frederick "Fritz" J. Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U. S. Pacific Fleet, was the keynote speaker at the event.
"As a family, we are here this morning to commemorate Veterans Day, and to remember and honor generations of Americans, men and women, military and civilian, whose service and sacrifice are responsible for our successful Armed Forces," said Roegge.
During the "tolling of the bells" ceremony, a bell is rung for each submarine lost at sea. As the metal vibration dies, submariners hang leis on each boat's memorial placard at the end of the park.
"It is truly an honor for me to be with you here this morning, and it's always an honor to speak at the USS Parche," said Roegge. "The boat's impressive history and awesome legacy makes it thrilling for me to speak here."
During this year's ceremony, Roegge emphasized the important role of the submarine response after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
"Our submarines were the first forces able to begin war patrols," said Roegge. "Although submarines made up only two percent of our Navy, they sank 60 percent of all Imperial Japanese ships that were sunk during the war."
Roegge also remembered that the submarine force suffered the heaviest casualties of any branch of service in the war.
In closing, Roegge solemnly acknowledged veterans and spoke optimistically about the future.
"We owe an unpayable debt to our veterans who fought to win, but also fought for peace," Roegge said. "Perhaps the most prominent legacy of the Greatest Generation is the example of honor, courage, and commitment that is now embodied in today's Armed Forces."