USS Mesa Verde Remembers Pearl Harbor
As Americans and U.S. Navy ships across the globe pause to remember the 72nd anniversary of the day which will live in infamy, USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) Sailors re-lived the events through real-time updates over the loudspeaker in an effort to connect modern Sailors with their Naval heritage and history.
The unprovoked, surprise attack at Pearl Harbor marks an important day for all Americans as the entrance into World War II, but the day is especially embedded into the history and legacy for Sailors.
Of the 2,403 American casualties- including Marines, soldiers and civilians- Sailors accounted for 2,008. During the attack, 21 ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, and aircraft losses included 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.
To remember their service and sacrifice, members of the ship’s Coalition of Sailors against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) chapter recanted accounts of survivors and summaries of logbook entries throughout the day starting at 7:55 a.m., the exact moment the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began.
“It’s gut-wrenching because I couldn’t imagine going to chow and the next thing you know they’re saying, ‘This is not a drill,'” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kirby J. Boudreaux. “And shortly after that, your ship is gone.”
Boudreaux said putting himself in the boots of the Sailors who lived through the attack made him value the procedures of ship life that reflect lessons learned through events like Pearl Harbor.
“I hope it instills pride and I hope that (other Sailors) understand that we do all these drills for a reason,” Boudreaux said. “I hope it brings up situational awareness and gives some answers to young Sailors who question why we do things… it’s for a reason, it’s written in blood.”
Lt. Bryan Purvis, Chaplain, said the day’s remembrance is essential in connecting present Sailors with those in the past.
“It is an event that happened over 70 years ago,” Purvis said. “Holding events which honor the lives of those who gave their all is vital. The impact often is not felt until (Sailors) speak with a veteran, hear their story or read about it. A name and face brings the event to life. It is then that Sailors and service members begin to process and understand the gravity of that day.”
As president of Mesa Verde’s newly formed CSADD chapter, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jalisa Dembo was excited and honored to participate in the events. Dembo said she hoped Sailors reflect on the freedom they both enjoy and protect through the hourly readings.
“As junior Sailors we do need to know about our Naval history, honoring those who served before us and their sacrifice,” Dembo said. “Just honor the day, the time, the hour when it happened, because that was somebody’s mom, dad, sister or brother.”
At Pearl Harbor, the theme of this year’s historic commemoration, “Sound the Alarm,” examines how thousands of Americans answered a call to duty in the wake of the attack, a theme also reflected in President Barack Obama’s annual proclamation of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“In remembrance of Pearl Harbor and to defend our Nation against future attacks, scores of young Americans enlisted in the United States military,” said Obama. “Because of their extraordinary valor, America emerged from this test as we always do — stronger than ever before… Today, with solemn pride and reverence, let us remember those who fought and died at Pearl Harbor, acknowledge everyone who carried their legacy forward, and reaffirm our commitment to upholding the ideals for which they served.”
Mesa Verde is underway as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). Mesa Verde Sailors and Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) are participating in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for deployment.
Press Release, December 09, 2013; Image: Wikimedia