NAVAL WEAPONS STATION SEAL BEACH, Calif (NNS) -- The Navy formally accepted ownership of a memorial dedicated to Sailors who gave their lives aboard submarines during a Veterans Day ceremony at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Nov. 11.
The U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II established the World War II National Submarine Memorial - West, May 30, 1977, to honor their comrades on eternal patrol. In a letter dated May 27, Secretary of the Navy Gordon England accepted the memorial as a gift from the submariners' group, but the transfer was not formalized until the Veterans Day ceremony.
Capt. Robert L. Thomas, commander of Submarine Squadron 11, served as guest speaker at the event. He told the veterans that their legacy of service survives in the submarine force today.
"Today's submarine Sailors have the same pride in the submarine service as you do," said Thomas.
L.W. "Vern" Speed, national president of the veterans' group, said the organization trusts that the Navy will care for the memorial.
"When we're all gone, the citizens of this country won't forget these guys who gave their lives so that the rest of those in this country could harvest the fruits of freedom," he said.
The memorial is centered around a World War II-era MK 8 steam-driven torpedo, and includes 52 plaques listing each of the submarines lost during World War II. Nearby, two plaques represent the submarines USS Thresher (SSN 593) and USS Scorpion (SSN 589), both lost during the Cold War. The 54 plaques contain the names of the 374 officers and 3,131 men who went down with the subs.
On behalf of Vice Adm. Al Konetzni, who helped secure the transfer of the memorial, Thomas honored all the submariners gathered at the event.
"We dutifully remember our shipmates who are still on patrol," he said. "But Adm. Konetzni asked that we also remember those who made it through."
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