JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Veterans, active duty service members, and friends and family of the Pacific Submarine Force gathered at the USS Parche Submarine Park and Memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, May 30.
The ceremony's guest speaker, Capt. Craig Blakely, commander of Submarine Squadron 7 based at Pearl Harbor’s historic submarine piers, spoke of the importance of Memorial Day and the sacrifices that are made every day by service members around the world.
"Their sacrifice is time away from family and loved ones. Their sacrifice is dedication to a cause larger than themselves, the defense of our nation and way of life," said Blakely. "As we witness these daily events, it is altogether fitting and proper to remember those who came before us. On Memorial Day, we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces."
The ceremony, organized by the U.S. Submarine Veterans Bowfin Base chapter at Pearl Harbor, included a posting of the 50 state flags by the Radford High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, posting of the colors by members of National Sojourners, a tolling of the bells for submarines and submariners that have been lost, wreath presentations from several support organizations, and a three-gun volley by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Navy Honor Guard Detachment.
Other groups in attendance included the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association, the U.S. Submarine League Aloha Chapter and the Pearl Harbor Submarine Officers' Spouses Association, and U.S. Ladies Auxiliary Subvettes.
Blakely said the lessons of our history will pass on to the next generation of submariners as they sail the waters their predecessors won through courage, sacrifice and heroism.
"Since the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Navy has kept command of the seas and remains the dominant force on the ocean, said Blakely. “It is not lost on me today, more than 70 years later, that we are still deploying boats to the same waters where the ‘Shark’, ‘Tang’ and other boats like them gave the full measure of devotion.”
Joan Peters, national president of the U.S. Ladies Auxiliary Subvettes, an organization of wives and sweethearts of submariners, said that Memorial Day took on a new meaning when she married her husband, John Peters, a 30-year veteran of the submarine force.
"When I first attended a ceremony and saw all the boats that had been lost, and all the people that died … it was such an emotional event," said Peters. “When I married my husband, the day truly became more meaningful.”
Retired submariner John Peters said the Memorial Day ceremony is important to him because it honors our lost veterans as well as many of his friends and family.
"A lot of friends and family of mine died in World War II and after," said Peters.
“Today was a suitable memorial to them and those who came before us.”