Bell Tolling Ceremony in Honor of Lost Submariners

Story Number: NNS150120-08Release Date: 1/20/2015 9:54:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- A special bell tolling ceremony was held at the Submarine Base Chapel on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 14, in memory of both submariners and submarines lost in the month of January during World War II.

Submariners past and present gathered to honor and remember those sacrifices for the nation, sponsored by the Submarine Veterans Bowfin Base, and the chaplain's office at Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet(COMSUBPAC).

Lt. Bill Gritton, chaplain from Naval Submarine Support Command, said the importance of the ceremony is the remembrance of what the submarine force has done in the past, and what they are still doing today.

"The idea is to remind people of the interconnectedness of the submarine force," said Gritton. "It is to remind people that the submarine legacy has extended back to 1900, and to remember the sacrifices that individuals have made during that time period."

The bell tolling ceremony is held every month to honor and pay respects to the 52 submarines and crews lost during the war.

The month of January honored five submarines and their crews that were lost, as well as 10 Sailors that were lost while the submarines themselves made it home.

Pictures of the submarines and their crews were displayed on a large screen as Sailors spoke of accomplishments and sacrifices.

One submarine in particular honored at the event was USS Argonaut (SS 166).

A V-class submarine, Argonaut was the largest submarine built until the nuclear era. A mine layer and troop transport, she was launched on Oct. 10, 1927.

She was sunk while engaging a Japanese convoy by direct fire and depth charges from Japanese destroyers. The sinking of Argonaut and her crew of 102 personnel was reported as the worst loss of life for a wartime submarine.

The bell that hangs in the steeple of the Submarine Base Chapel, and tolled in remembrance for the fallen each month, was donated from the crew of USS Argonaut right before her last patrol, one from which she would never return.

Following the ceremony, submarine veterans and active duty personnel reflected upon the event.

"Everything that we do in the submarine force has been built on the backs of the Sailors that we have lost," said COMSUBPAC's Force Master Chief Russ Mason, a native of Mears, Michigan. "There is nothing in the submarine force that was not written in blood. For us to come here to honor them is a small price to pay to remember these Sailors and their sacrifices."

Mason has seen his share of Sailors lost during his career, and believes events like bell tolling ceremonies help show that Sailors past and present acknowledge their sacrifice and honor them.

"It is personal to me and I think it is personal to each one of us," added Mason. "They know someone or know of someone that we have lost, so we want to remember them and honor them."

Retired submariner, Lt. Cmdr. Paul Jurcsak, from the Bowfin Based Submarine Veterans and a native of New York, believes the bell tolling ceremonies help attendees remember and share the proud tradition of the U.S. submarine force.

"We all leave here with a deep sense of pride of being a part of probably the greatest submarine force that the world has ever known," said Jurcsak. "It's our pleasure to honor the memory of those great Sailors and it is fitting that we continue this tradition."

Jurcsak recounted his experience losing a fellow shipmate while he served on active duty, and was devastated.

"We are all brothers, and we feel a deep sense of loss whenever someone leaves us," added Jurcsak.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Steven Warden, assigned at Task Force 34, served as a presenter at the event and said he believed the tolling of the bells was even more inspiring for him because he is from a different naval community.

"Being from the surface Navy, we are not as knowledgeable of the subsurface community and the dangers that come with it," said Warden, originally from Vinita, Oklahoma.

Warden said he believes that submariners have that constant risk of not being able to surface. Some will surface, and some will not.

"For those who did not surface, we should all stand and support them," said Warner.

For more information about the Pacific Submarine Force, visit

For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit

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