Friday, April 25, 2014

Utah remembers Pearl Harbor namesake ship, commissions youth group with historical name

By Wendy Leonard, Deseret News

Published: Sat, Dec. 7 4:15 p.m. MST

 US Naval Sea Cadets attend a memorial ceremony honoring the officers and crew of the USS UTAH BB-31 at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

US Naval Sea Cadets attend a memorial ceremony honoring the officers and crew of the USS UTAH BB-31 at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bell rang at the Utah State Capitol Saturday to honor the officers and crew of the U.S.S. Utah, which capsized in Pearl Harbor 72 years ago.

The ship was stunned by two Japanese torpedoes while it sat, moored off the coast of Ford Island, at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. It tipped and sank within 12 minutes of being struck, taking with it 58 officers and crew on board at the time of the international attack.

It was "a sad day for the country and ultimately the world," said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who attended and spoke during the Saturday ceremony.

The battle at Pearl Harbor that day propelled the United States into World War II.

"(Those seamen) lived the Navy adage to never give up the ship," said Chief Wayne Baker, of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, which was recommissioned under a new name Saturday. He described the significance of a place setting on display at the Capitol for the Naval ceremony.

A red rose stood alone in a vase to symbolize the blood of those who died, a glass of water "to quench their thirst for freedom," and a white linen cloth was there, to serve as a bandage for their wounds, Baker said.

Bells tolled in reverence for the departed shipmates, as well as for military who stand guard to protect America's freedoms still.

"It's the greatest country in the world," said Zach Bunting, of Millcreek, who is a member of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps' former Great Salt Lake Division, now known as Battleship Utah BB-31, which is in remembrance of the U.S.S. Utah BB-31 dreadnought battleship.

"It's a piece of our unit, it's a piece of our history and it is a piece of us," he said.

The 16-year-old plans to join the Navy because of a sense of duty and honor that he feels as a teen. The training he receives in the cadet program, Bunting said, will give him "a leg up" on his peers when he enlists.

The objectives of the Sea Cadet program are to introduce American youth, ages 13 to 17, to naval life, to foster a sense of pride, patriotism, courage and self-reliance, and to maintain an environment free of drugs and gangs.

Two survivors of the battle at Pearl Harbor were in attendance Saturday and each said they were moved by the somber remembrance of a day they'll never forget.

"My memory of that day is very clear," said Glenn Allgood, who was aboard the U.S.S. Antares on that fateful day in 1941. The now-90-year-old said he came home and successfully graduated from college and worked at Geneva Steel for 40 years.

Allgood and Dewey D. Farmer, a petty officer in the U.S. Navy during the Pearl Harbor attack and WWII, were thanked by many in attendance for their service.

Herbert said three important lessons can be learned from the events of Pearl Harbor, including the need to be vigilant and "ever ready," to remember history and those who served, and to have gratitude for those who have, do and will serve the country to preserve its freedoms.

The rusting hulk of U.S.S. Utah remains in Pearl Harbor, partially above water. The men killed when the ship sank were never removed from the wreck, and as such, she is considered a war grave.

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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