NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Submarine Learning Facility (SUBLRNFAC) held its annual Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial Service, May 23, on Naval Station Norfolk.
The event is held each year prior to Memorial Day.
In past years, the services honored the 52 submarines lost and gallant Sailors who perished during World War II, in addition to the post WWII losses of USS Thresher (SSN 593), April 10, 1963, and USS Scorpion (SSN 589), May 22, 1968. But since the World War II submarine veterans were rolled into the United States. Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI) during the 2012 national convention, this year's ceremony also honored all submarines and submariners lost during the force's 113-year history.
Cmdr. Stan Stewart, Jr., SUBLRNFAC commanding officer, welcomed the more than 100 veterans, active duty Sailors, spouses, and visitors.
"Welcome to Submarine Learning Facility, and thank you all for being here to remember and honor the veterans of the submarine force," said Stewart. "This is a great opportunity to reflect and remember those who came before us. Also, to honor them, so we just don't remember them today, but we remember them in all that we do. Every time I put my uniform on, I remember. Every time I hug my wife or children, I remember. I remember they forged the path to secure the freedoms we enjoy.
"Their sacrifices established the standard for honor, commitment and courage. Our duty is to continue their legacy - the highest honor we can give them. So it is my great pleasure, and I am genuinely humbled to offer the crew of Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk's gratitude to our veterans and their families this Memorial Day weekend."
He then introduced the guest speaker, Vice Adm. Michael Connor, Commander, Submarine Forces.
"Submarine veterans, fellow submariners, shipmates and families, it is an honor for me to be here with you today," said Connor. "I know that this ceremony is incredibly important to all of you, and I want you to know that it is humbling to speak to a group of American heroes such as yourselves. We always look forward to celebrating the exploits, the traditions, the professionalism, and the heroism of our veterans. Words cannot convey how much we, in today's submarine force, admire and appreciate what you have done, and how much we owe to you for our successes. Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to the cornerstone of our Navy, Norfolk, Virginia.
"The submarine force is a family business and all of you here today are a part of that family. Many of you are very familiar with our history. You lived part of it, and through the SUBVETS, you preserve it for future generations. I am proud to stand here today as part of the world's best submarine force. Those of us who are still serving on active duty honor you. But more importantly, we look to you for inspiration and example. We look to you to hear and learn from your experiences. Our contact with the past is important to today's success.
"I want to thank again for the honor of allowing me to speak to you all today. But most of all, I want to give my most sincere thank you to all the submarine veterans who have served this great country. God bless you all.'
During the ceremony, retired Navy Captain Horatio Lincoln, former commanding officer of the USS Narwhal (SSN 671), announced the USS Scorpion would become the 15th submarine to be inducted into the Submarine 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 USSVI organization.
Built by the Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corp., Groton, Conn., USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was commissioned on July 29, 1960. It was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine and the sixth Navy ship to carry the name of Scorpion. Following type training out of her homeport in Norfolk, Va., the submarine got underway on February 15, 1968 for a Mediterranean Sea deployment.
She operated with the U.S. Sixth Fleet into May, and then headed west for home. On May 21 her position was reported to be about 50 miles south of the Azores. Six days later, she was reported overdue at Norfolk. A search was initiated, but on June 5, Scorpion and her crew were declared "presumed lost." Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 30.
"Many thanks for your hospitality and camaraderie in extending the invitation to participate in today's important remembrance event," said Lincoln. "I consider the opportunity to stand in ranks with you today as a great privilege in honoring USS Scorpion and her gallant crew - Cold War warriors and silent heroes who remain at sea faithfully standing the watch, forever remaining in our hearts. I thank you for keeping the memories of our shipmates and the history of the Submarine Force shining brightly as vibrant elements in our Navy's culture. We stand on the shoulders of our submarine force predecessors, honoring their legacy and the value of our nation's silent service.
"So I consider it fitting and proper today to celebrate the legacy of USS Scorpion and her crew, we honor their service by pausing today to give thanks and to remember. Today, we also want to acknowledge the true treasures of our Navy's submarine force - our people. I remain steadfast in my belief that all of the eye-watering technology today brings substantial warfighting capabilities to the Submarine Force and our Navy to carry out the critical mission of protecting our country. But that technology is worthless without our incredible Sailors. Thank you Admiral Connor, the leadership team of the Submarine Learning Center, submarine Vvteran colleagues and shipmates for allowing me the privilege to join you today."
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