Norfolk Hosts World War II SUBVETS Memorial Service

Story Number: NNS110606-23Release Date: 6/6/2011 3:02:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Peter Taylor, Submarine Learning Facility Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The annual Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial Service was held at the Submarine Learning Facility (SUBLRNFAC), Naval Station Norfolk, May 26.

The event was hosted by SUBLRNFAC, and is held each year prior to Memorial Day.

The service honored the 52 submarines and their Sailors lost during World War II, and the losses of the USS Thresher (SSN 593), April 10, 1963, and USS Scorpion (SSN 589), May 22, 1968.

Cmdr. Albert Onley, SUBLRNFAC commanding officer, welcomed the more than 100 veterans, active duty Sailors, spouses, and visitors.

"The veterans here today and their families have personified the fighting spirit of the Navy and our core values of honor, courage and commitment," said Onley. "You have shared your stories to help us, the submariners, who follow in your footsteps to understand the sacrifices required to defend freedom and democracy, and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We cannot thank you enough for your service and continued contribution to our nation."

Vice Adm. John M. Richardson, commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic; served as the guest speaker for the event.

"It's just so terrific to be involved with the Subvets in so many ways," said Richardson. "The examples you provided on active duty are the examples we continue everyday to live up to. The examples you continue to serve as the nation gets ready to mark Memorial Day remind us that this day has a higher meaning, and it is completely appropriate to come together today and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation."

Following the ceremony, USS Halibut (SS-232), became the 14th submarine to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Selection is merited by the submarine's contribution to national security, and selection is conducted by the Hampton Roads Chapter of the U.S. Submarine Veterans organization.

USS Halibut was commissioned January 4, 1960 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard as the world's first submarine designed and built from the keel up to launch guided missiles.

"She was commissioned in what I call a 'magic' period of time. The United States was bursting with creativity and we were confronting a tremendous threat from the Soviet Union when the Cold War really was just taking shape," said Richardson. "She too inherited from those submariners who went before her. She sunk her teeth in the Cold War, very deeply, in ways that we can only speculate. She took a tremendous toll on the enemy in the special way that the Cold War was fought," said Richardson. Halibut is the pivot point to describe that continuing honor we have to honor the submarine force and the work they did in the wars.

The ship was decommissioned on June 30, 1976 at Mare Island. She completed 1,232 dives and 32 Regulus missile test launches.

Distinguished visitors included Vice Adm. John M. Richardson, Commander, Submarine Forces, and Cmdr. Gary T. Smith, USN (Ret).

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