Ronald Reagan Sailors Pause to Observe Pearl Harbor

Story Number: NNS071208-07Release Date: 12/8/2007 1:14:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cara Maib, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) took time to pause and remember the lives of those lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7 while underway for Tailored Ship's Training Assessment and Final Evaluation Problem exercises.

At 7:48 a.m. not a voice could be heard on board Ronald Reagan save that of Cmdr. Lee Axtell, command chaplain, his voice carried over on the 1-MC, calling for remembrance and a moment of silence for those lost during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

"May the heroic example of our shipmates from Pearl Harbor cause us to look deep within ourselves," Axtell said in prayer, "to see what resources we might have to persevere as they did that morning in December. Grant, we pray, joy and fulfillment to those still living, and for those who are at rest, Lord, grant thy peace."

In addition to the moment of silence, the Ronald Reagan Religious Ministries Department also prepared a slide show of historic photographs taken the day of the attack. The slide show played all day in the ship's chapel, where Sailors could also pray for lives lost so many years ago.

"As long as we remember, our comrades still live with us," said Lt. Cmdr. Herbert Griffin, chaplain. "Sometimes we come to work and the day in and day out activity is very mundane, but when you remember something like Pearl Harbor, you remember the men and women who died there - Sailors."

"The uniforms may be a little bit different, the equipment more modern, but no matter what, throughout those years and the years to come, Sailors will always have the same sources of tradition, heritage and customs," added Griffin. "In the midst of remembering, we become that much closer to the Sailors of the past, Sailors today and the Sailors that will come after us."

Many Sailors on board Ronald Reagan have family who served in the military before them, and for one Sailor, Pearl Harbor Day holds those bonds of family history very close.

Hull Technician 2nd Class William Smith's grandfather, Richard Morton, was in the military and in his early 20s when the attack came.

"He said he was driving to breakfast, and the next thing you know there's zeros flying over and shooting at him," Smith recalled from his grandfather's story.

According to Smith, Morton was an Army Air Corps mechanic at the time of the attack. For decades he wouldn't speak of that day's events, not to his mother, not even to his wife. The first person he told was Smith, his grandson, on Dec. 7, 2005, as they sat down at a restaurant together.

"He said, 'You're in the military, so I guess you deserve to know,' when I asked him about it," Smith said. "I was the only person he ever talked to about it."

Smith said his grandfather passed away earlier this year, only a week before Ronald Reagan pulled into Pearl Harbor toward the end of the surge deployment.

"[Pearl Harbor Day] has always been important to me, but now it helps me remember him a little bit more," said Smith.

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.

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