PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Seven Sailors from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and her embarked Carrier Air Wing 9 reenlisted at the USS Arizona Memorial Feb. 1 during the aircraft carrier's five-day port visit to the Aloha State.
For these Sailors, the opportunity to reenlist at the national monument allowed them to honor shipmates who stood the Navy's watch before them and gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
"I think Sailors like to be a part of the history of this memorial," said Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW) Gene Durham, Vinson's command career counselor. "They can feel like they're a part of what makes this country great."
Thousands of tourists make their way through the memorial each day, paying tribute and respect to the fallen Sailors in Pearl Harbor. Japanese bombers sank USS Arizona (BB 39) Dec. 7, 1941, during a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Of the 1,513 crewmen aboard the battleship, 1,177 perished, and the mighty warship sank at her berth.
"Tranquil," said Personnelman 3rd Class (SW/AW) Keith Fitch, describing his reenlistment experience. "I feel tranquil and humbled."
Fitch's emotions were shared by most of the reenlistees, their guests and respective reenlistment officers, as they quietly observed and reflected on the remains of Arizona resting in the silt of Pearl Harbor only several feet below the surface. Portions of the ship, including the forward gun-mount, are sill visible above the waterline.
"It feels real humbling," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Carolyn Spicer of Sea Control Squadron 33, the air wing's refueling squadron. Spicer was one of two Sailors from the air wing to raise and lower their own commemorative American flag before taking the oath of reenlistment.
"I feel proud to actually come out here and be above all these fallen Sailors to reenlist and honor those who have served before me and died for our country," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael Steckley, a member of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8.
In addition to the seven reenlistments on the Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri (BB 63) was the site for two more reenlistments from Carl Vinson's crew during the visit.
These ceremonies took place on the Surrender Deck, where the Japanese signed a formal instrument of surrender in Tokyo Bay Sept. 2, 1945. The battle ship was decommissioned in 1955 after serving in the Korean conflict and now stands an endless watch over the remains of the Arizona.
"I believe being at the memorials gave everyone a great sense of sadness as far as feeling the loss of so many people, but at the same time, a great deal of pride for being part of the armed forces," said Durham. "It brings a reality to the job we sometimes don't see."
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.