NORFOLK (NNS) -- Family members, friends, and submariners past and present gathered at the Scorpion Memorial on Norfolk Naval Station May 26, to honor the memory of the 99 Sailors lost aboard the attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN 589).
The ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of Scorpion's loss on May 22, 1968. A crowd of over 500 gathered to remember the 99 Sailors on eternal patrol, to honor the families left behind, and to strengthen the friendships developed over the years.
Following the invocation by Capt. Melvin Underwood, the Submarine Force chaplain, Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo, commander, Submarine Forces, gave opening remarks welcoming all in attendance on behalf of the United States Submarine Force.
"I can think of nothing more appropriate on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend morning than to formally pause for a moment to reflect on these great Americans who gave their lives in the service of this country," Tofalo said.
Tofalo thanked all who planned the event, welcomed the families, and introduced retired Captain Bill Richardson, a former Scorpion crew member. Richardson had the honor of introducing his son and the guest speaker of the ceremony Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.
Adm. Richardson, too, reflected on the importance of this ceremony in Submarine Force history. "If you are a submariner, if you are part of the submarine family, if you are a former submariner, or interested in the submarine force or the Navy, you could not ask to be in a better place than here on this pier in Norfolk, right now to celebrate this memorial."
Richardson's words to the families were of compassion and reflection. He reminded them that the Navy will continue to remember. "We use the word family a lot when we talk about our service in the Submarine Force. You see through this crowd that this is a multi-generational family," said Richardson. "We reach out today and every day to strengthen one another."
To veterans, he shared his appreciation for their continued patriotism and desire to preserve the history and heritage of the force. To submariners serving today, Richardson said, "We will not pass up any opportunity to get better professionally and to make our force more lethal and more deadly for our enemies and more safe for our Sailors."
After recognizing the families, Capt. Maryetta Nolan, daughter of Chief Torpedoman Walter William Bishop, the Chief of the Boat on Scorpion at the time of her loss, introduced the Sailors who would be reading of the 99 names and tolling the bell. Machinist Mate Chief Patrick Smith, the grandson of LT David Lloyd, Scorpion's executive officer, and Lt. Charles Koller, grandnephew of Bishop, read the names of each submariner as Yeoman Second Class Rachael Skelton, granddaughter of Storekeeper Second Class Julies Jackson, tolled the bell.
After the reading of five names, the bell was struck twice. Once for the lost Sailor and once for the family left behind.
As the last name was read and the final bell struck, a 21-gun salute was rendered, followed by the playing of taps by the U.S. Fleet Force Band.
At the close of the ceremony, a wreath dedicated to the Scorpion crew was presented by the Scorpion Widows to Tofalo, who received the wreath on behalf of the Submarine Force. The wreath will be ceremoniously committed to the deep by the next deploying Norfolk-based submarine.
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