Remembrance ceremonies were held this weekend at the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Below are accounts of all three events, along with images.
NASWI Remembers Pearl Harbor
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Whidbey Island
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) and the North Cascade chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association commemorated the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, during a ceremony, Dec. 7.
The ceremony, held in the base chapel, honored those killed in the attack, and featured speeches by Capt. Mike Nortier, NASWI commanding officer, and Gayle Vyskocil, widow of Pearl Harbor survivor Lt. Cmdr. James Vyskocil and vice president of the North Cascade chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
“At Pearl Harbor men and women rose up to the occasion not just to do their jobs, but to sacrifice much to defend their nation; many giving their last full measure of life as the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation,” said Nortier. “Like so many others over the ensuing years, they became heroes through selfless acts of courage and commitment in freeing the world from the dark night of oppression.”
Nortier emphasized the influence the attack in shaping the Navy.
“On the open oceans, few have the courage or audacity to challenge the United States Navy,” said Nortier. “We can look back and know that it was the actions and resolve of those who served in our Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor that made the U.S. Navy the greatest navy the world has ever seen.”
Vyskocil gave a grim reminder of the rapid loss of our nation’s living history.
“This has been a very hard year for our group, this local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is one of the few chapters still functioning,” said Vyskocil. “The national organization shut down on the 70th anniversary in 2011.”
In the last year five members of the North Cascade chapter passed away; Tony Nady, USS Nevada survivor, Irvin Schmidt, USS California survivor, Roger Allen, an honorary member and Korean War veteran, Jim Stansell, USS Hull survivor and chapter president, and Cecil Calavan, USS Utah survivor and chapter vice president.
“In spite of these losses our chapter continues to meet monthly sharing friendship and fellowship, and will do so as long as people want to come,” said Vyskocil.
During her speech, Vyskocil read from her late husband’s account of serving as a Signalman 3rd Class on duty on the Navy yard signal platform at the time of the attack.
“What used to be nightmares are now memories,” said Vyskocil quoting her late husband. “I can honestly say that Dec. 7, 1941 was the day that I and many other young men grew up.”
Keyport, NBK Remember Pearl Harbor
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jamie Hawkins, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
KEYPORT, Wash. (NNS) — More than 150 people attended the 21st annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony at the Naval Undersea Museum Jack Murdock Auditorium in Keyport, Wash. Dec. 7.
In addition to active duty members, four Pearl Harbor survivors attended with their family members along with widows of deceased survivors and members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2995.
Capt. Dave Kohnke, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) commander, Keyport led the day’s events as the master of ceremonies. During his remarks, he spoke of the importance of not only honoring those who survived, but the more than 2,000 people who lost their lives Dec. 7, 1941 as well as the families that were forever changed on that fateful day.
“The spouses and families of Pearl Harbor have their own memories,” said Kohnke. “They too, have had, and some continue to experience, mental as well as physical pain. As we honor the fallen, we must honor those who remain.”
To begin the ceremony, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lake Washington Post 2995 honor guard, paraded the colors while Sailors assigned to Navy Band Northwest played the national anthem.
Following the opening remarks, a presentation was given on the attacks, which devastated the island and brought America into World War II.
“My father often spoke about friends who died at Pearl Harbor,” said Morgan Wilson, a ceremony attendee. “He would always attend the remembrance ceremonies, and though he passed away last year I still come to continue to honor those lost that day as well him.”
Wilson went on to express the importance of honoring the survivors while it’s still possible.
“As bad as it may sound, we won’t have Pearl Harbor survivors for much longer,” said Wilson. “For me they are the very best of what many refer to as the greatest generation, and everyone owes them so very much. The least we can do is remember.”
During the ceremony, survivors of Pearl Harbor shared testimonials of their experience on the day of the attack
“At 95 I don’t have a lot of time left and to be here and seeing my fellow shipmates makes me happy,” said Roy Carter, a 20-year veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor assigned to USS Oklahoma. “I am very glad to see so many people show up. It was nice, really.”
After the ceremony, the survivors gathered for photos and received thanks from members in attendance.
Everett Hosts Pearl Harbor Remembrance
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Blees
EVERETT, Wash. – Sailors, Veterans and Department of Defense (DoD) employees gathered Nov. 5 in the Grand Vista Ballroom on Naval Station Everett (NSE) to remember the tragic events that transpired at Pearl Harbor 73 years ago.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors and was followed with a moment of silence to remember those who were lost. Following, there were guest speakers, a wreath-laying, and a special “walk of honor” for veterans in attendance.
Lt. Cmdr. Carl Stamper, NSE Chaplain, opened with the invocation after colors.
“Lord let us consider how you used this event to shape individuals in the nation,” said Stamper.
After the invocation, NSE Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Coury, spoke.
“On this special occasion we are privileged to be in the company of some very special guests,” said Coury. “Remembering them [WWII Veterans] ensures we remember those who shaped America.”
The theme of this year’s historic commemoration, “Preserving the Memory,” focuses on how we keep the story of the attack on Oahu, and WWII, alive for the nation and the world.
“2,400 of our military died at Pearl Harbor 73 years ago. Today, we gather to mourn them,” said Bruce Peseau, WWII Veteran. “I am proud to have served my beloved country.”
Peseau received a standing ovation after addressing the audience, and fellow WWII Veteran Art Unruh took the podium after him.
“We were just a bunch of kids,” said Unruh. “For my good buddies that didn’t get to come home like I did, my flag goes up every day.”
The ceremony concluded with the “walk of honor”, where active duty Sailors saluted the Veterans as they exited.
“The courage and strength demonstrated at Pearl Harbor and during World War II holds a place among our country’s honored history,” said Coury.