U.S. Navy remembers Pearl Harbor

A Whidbey Island Naval Air Station command will be honoring Pearl Harbor survivors on Friday, Dec. 7, at a poignant memorial service timed precisely to coincide with the moment the Japanese air attack began at the Hawaiian port 60 years ago.

Later, the public may visit with the survivors, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Chapter 5, at a luncheon at the CPO Club on Ault Field Road.

Anyone with authorized access to the base may attend the ceremony at the Crescent Harbor Marina. Survivors will be taken out into the harbor in a 65-foot Navy support craft to lay a wreath in the water. The ceremony will be radioed back to the marina for attendees to hear, and it will include a prayer by Chapter 5 Chaplain Jerry Wachsmuth, a 21-gun salute, and taps played by bugler Sarah Jo Milling, an Oak Harbor High School junior and daughter of a Navy chief.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. the survivors will be honored with a luncheon at the CPO Club. The public should have easier access to the Club, in order to meet and talk with the survivors, said a Navy master chief involved in the planning of the event.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 is hosting the event for the chapter for the fifth consecutive year. What began as a simple request from the survivors has evolved into a rewarding relationship between the sailors of the past and those currently serving.

“It started as a request from them,” said Bill Tyrell, command master chief of EODMU 11.

Tyrell said the survivors had asked for a Whidbey Island Navy command with a boat that would be able to take them out into the harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1997 so that they may lay a wreath in memory of the attack.

The relationship grew from there.

“Each year it’s grown and I’m trying to add stuff on,” Tyrell said. More than simply giving the survivors a ride on each Dec. 7, EODMU 11, under Tyrell’s direction, has incorporated the Pearl Harbor survivors into any and all activities in which EODMU 11 is involved. The aged survivors are even honorary members of the command.

Chapter 5 survivors are invited to all command functions, from family picnics to changes of command, as well as base activities such as the Navy Ball.

Last spring, EODMU 11 sailors hosted the survivors at a private showing of the movie “Pearl Harbor” at Oak Harbor’s Plaza Cinema 3. In October at the Navy Ball, the unit honored the survivors with a special flag-passing ceremony.

“I do it because I think that we owe them,” Tyrell said. “They deserve our respect, our friendship, and our help.”

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