Looking Back, Moving Forward
Updated On: 9/20/2012 8:52:53 AM
Looking Back, Moving Forward read more...
Present-day ships with ties to infamous attach remembers Pearl Harbor's lost.
Ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor took place aboard each of the three ships that make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group as the unit conducted operations in the Western Pacific Ocean on Dec. 7.
The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), which serves as the command ship for Amphibious Squadron 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as well as the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
In the most symbolic of the three ceremonies, hundreds of sailors and Marines gathered aboard the USS Pearl Harbor to honor the 2,459 Americans who lost their lives during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the ship's namesake.
"It seems fitting that the ship that carries the name Pearl Harbor is deployed on this historic day," Cmdr. Homer Denius, the USS Pearl Harbor's commanding officer, said during the ceremony. "We travel around the globe with the understanding that, just like that day in 1941, the unexpected can happen at any time."
Denius said he often tells of how his ship belongs to those Pearl Harbor veterans who fought bravely on that particular day and throughout the Pacific theater during World War II.
"Our presence is a testament to the American spirit," Denius said. "Seventy years ago an unexpected attack left our fleet damaged beyond belief. Yet, we rebuilt, and thanks to the perseverance of that generation of heroes, our Navy has never been stronger."
The largest of the three ceremonies took place aboard Makin Island, where nearly all of the ship's more than 2,000 sailors and Marines joined together for a special remembrance event that included a ceremonial wreath-laying and the playing of taps to honor those lost during the attack.
"We go forward with our heads held high but look back and remember where we come from," Col. Michael Hudson, commanding officer of the 11th MEU, said during the ceremony aboard Makin Island.
Onboard the New Orleans, a similar event took place where hundreds of sailors and Marines also paid tribute to those who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941. During the event they learned about the role of the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA 32) and how the city of New Orleans also played an important role during World War II.
Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, the USS New Orleans' commanding officer, spoke of how the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans was in port at Pearl Harbor that day and how the crew returned fire and saved the ship to become one of the most decorated ships of the war.
Jacko pointed out that the ship's namesake city also has an enduring tie to World War II.
"New Orleans was the site of Higgins Industries, which invented and produced Higgins landing craft as well as Higgins torpedo boats," Jacko said. "The amphibious landing craft were used throughout WWII and were cited by President Eisenhower as instrumental in the war effort." During the ceremony, Jacko also told the crew about boat designer Andrew Higgins, a Louisiana native whose company built the boats using local labor to support the war effort. New Orleans is also home to the National D-Day Museum, which honors all World War II veterans.
While each of the three ceremonies was uniquely tailored to recognize the ties each of the three ships has to World War II, all honored the lives of those lost on that day.
Capt. Humberto Quintanilla II, PHIBRON-5 commander, spoke during the ceremony onboard Makin Island and focused his comments on how the Japanese failed to launch a third wave of the attack, which would have destroyed the shipyard repair and refueling infrastructure at Pearl Harbor. As a result, many of the ships were able to be repaired and join the U.S. Pacific Fleet to eventually defeat the Japanese Empire.
"Pearl Harbor, a day that lives in infamy, has a lesson for us all as a nation," Quintanilla said. "The defense industrial base, the private corporate venture between the U.S. government and our high-technology corporations, must continue to be strong."
The Makin Island ARG visited historic Pearl Harbor Nov. 21-23 as the first port visit of its current deployment. During the visit, sailors and Marines took the time to experience many of the historic sites, including the USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri Museum.
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.
Written by Amphibious Squadron 5