NORFOLK, Va (NNS) -- The annual Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial Service was held May 27 at the Submarine Learning Facility (SUBLRNFAC), Naval Station Norfolk.
The service, hosted by SUBLRNFAC, honored the 52 submarines and the gallant Sailors lost during World War II, and the losses of the USS Thresher (SSN 593), April 10, 1963, and the 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.
"My favorite stanza in the Sailor's Creed says 'I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world'," said Onley. "The veterans here today and their families have personified that fighting spirit. 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 for our nation. We can not thank you enough for your service and your continued contribution to our nation."
Retired Master Chief Torpedoman's Mate (Submarines) Rich Corey served as guest speaker. In 1972, he was the first Sailor selected as the Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic and Atlantic Fleet Sailor of the Year. Corey is also a former crew member of USS George Washington (SSBN 598), which was chosen to be inducted into the Submarine Hall of Fame after the ceremony.
"This year marks the 110th anniversary of our submarine force, so it's a great honor and pleasure to stand before you today and pay tribute to all submarine veterans of the United States both past and present," said Corey. "This ceremony shows all of them how we feel about the contributions they have made to this great country, and that they will always be remembered as part of the greatest generation of Americans to serve."
"It is a great honor and a privilege to be the coordinator for the Submarine Veterans of World War II memorial ceremony this year, said Fire Control Technician (Submarines) Justin McElwee. "Honoring those who have gone before us is extremely important so that we never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by the brave submariners who died defending our freedom. From talking to some of the Submarine Veterans, this ceremony holds great meaning not only to them but also to the families of our fallen brethren."
Following the ceremony, George Washington became the 12th 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.
"George Washington was commissioned December 30, 1959, as the world's first nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine," said Corey. "Arguably, it can be considered the submarine that had the greatest influence on world events in the 20th Century. With its entry into service, the United States instantly gained the most powerful deterrent force imaginable - a stealth platform with enormous nuclear firepower."
The ship was decommissioned Jan. 24, 1985, but prior to disposal the ship's sail was removed and is currently memorialized in New London, Conn.
Distinguished visitors included Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, commander, Submarine Forces, and John Panneton, military liaison for U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye and former national president of the Navy League of the United States.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/sublant/.