Submariners celebrate Memorial Day at OMSI

Men and women who served their country under the seas gathered for this tribute. You’ll see exclusive coverage right here‚

A Portland Fire & Rescue Fireboat sends patriotically-colored streams of water in honor of fallen submariners at OMSI.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
1300 hours on Memorial Day, former submariner Bob Walters sounded the “dive” claxon to signal the start of a memorial service for those who have served our nation under the seas.

Then, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and the colors of our nation were honored.

“This memorial celebration is important because this is the time we remember those we served with, those with whom we are currently serving, and those who died in the service of their country,” J.D. Corbitt, the event’s organizer is with the Portland Blueback Base told us. “Memorial Day is a fitting day to do this.”

The Blueback Base, Corbitt said, is a gathering of men and women who have served their country on submarines.

Because they work closely together, in a confined space for a long period of time, “Submariners form a special brotherly-bond seldom seen in other branches of the armed forces,” explained Walters.

“These are all highly skilled people,” Walters continued. “To be a crew member on the USS Blueback submarine, now docked behind OMSI, had to be certified in every position on the vessel.”

Captain Kenneth Dale Walker places a wreath in memory of lost submariners at the memorial near OMSI.

Captain Kenneth Dale Walker, U.S. Navy, was the event’s keynote speaker.

During part of Walker’s speech, he told the group of 100 service people and family members, “What is our responsibility to the submariners who gave their lives in the service of their county? I believe it is to celebrate their lives. They are an inspiration. To the veterans here, you have a personal experience of the horrors of war, of grief and hope. We honor those who serve, take up arms, and place themselves in harm’s way, so we may live in peace.”

Retired submariner Bob Walters rings the ship’s bell in memory of those lost at sea in the service of their nation.

As part of the Memorial Day ceremony a bell was tolled in memory of lost boats and sailors; and a wreath was placed at the Submariners’ Memorial at OMSI by Captain Kenneth Dale Walker, U.S. Navy.

As a finale, a Portland Fire & Rescue fireboat shot streams of red, white and blue water, providing a patriotic background for the USS Blueback’s former crewmates gathered for the event.

Former submariner George Hager blows taps, ending the memorial service as a PF&R Fireboat salutes with a spray.

© 2007 David F Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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