Let me first recognize the U.S. submarine veterans of World War II, and the other retired and active submariners and their families, who have come here today. We are also joined by Michael Dinola, Jr., whose father was lost onboard USS THRESHER. Thank you all for being here on this special day-the 96th year of submarines in the United States Navy.
I would also like to extend a special recognition to Mrs. Jeanine McKenzie Allen who is in the final stages of a 10 year project to pay tribute to her father, Torpedoman’s Mate First Class Lloyd Charles McKenzie, who was lost at sea on USS TRITON (SS 201) on March 15, 1943. Mrs. Allen has undergone an epic journey in researching historical submarine operations and her father’s heroics in war. On April 22, she will be dedicating a plaque in his honor at Arlington National Cemetery and I know many of you here today will be there.
It is a real privilege for me to participate in the second annual wreath laying ceremony to honor those submariners on eternal patrol. Of course, now that we have done this more than once, we can call it an annual event.
Being new in my job as the Director of Submarine Warfare, I must commend those who have come before me-and many of you here today-who had the foresight to start this event on the birthday of the Submarine Force-to remember those who so valiantly gave their lives in service to their country.
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often do not stop and reflect on the people who have gone before us-or the thin line of fate which separates the destinies of the heroes assembled here today from those on eternal patrol.
John F. Kennedy said that,” A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers”. Today, our nation, our family, our spirit, is in your Submarine Force and your submariners. We have gathered here to honor them, to remember them, to reflect on their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families, and what that means to us. Our reflection does not cast a shadow, but rather, it shines a light so that we might better learn from the past and see into the future.
Two weeks ago I was the guest speaker at the U.S. Naval Academy’s first annual Submarine Birthday Ball. The Ball was preceded by a Submarine Heroes• reception which honored many of the living legends. I took that opportunity in addressing the midshipmen-our future leaders-to give them a window into our past and how the rich heritage of the Submarine Force impacted my decision to become a submariner. It was those heroes in history-many of them there that night, from engineman to admiral-whose image burned in my mind. Their heroic deeds are a valuable party of our heritage and remain a cornerstone of the professional pride in today’s Submarine Force.
While history does not always repeat itself, it does perpetuate a unity that glues the generations who have fought and overcome the challenges of the deep. That unity-that esprit-de-corps of our submarine people-draws us here today, to pay homage to those heroes whose faces we can’t recall, whose dreams we have lived and whose spirits we have carried on.
These heroes in World War II accounted for 55 percent of all Japanese shipping sunk-an achievement accomplished with less than 2 percent of the United States Navy’s personnel. But that did not come without a large toll. Fifty-two submarines were lost-almost one out of every five and over 3500 men went down with their ships-about one out of every four men in the Submarine Force. No other branch of the armed services suffered so high a toll. Their courage, in the face of death, was the decisive factor in the outcome of the war in the Pacific.
Our shipmates in the Marine Corps have a special place for submariners, and the challenge of life under the sea, as accounted by General Holland Howlin’ Mad Smith in his autobiography detailing
his experiences in the Pacific in World War II:
“Marines and submariners shared the same characteristics and the bond between them was stronger than between any other two branches of the naval service. We were both volunteers; to a man, we deliberately chose the most hazardous type of service … the Marine admired the submariner who cruised for months at a time in enemy waters, hundreds of miles from his home base … the lads who manned the underwater craft were not supermen and possessed no supernatural qualities of heroism; they were top notch American youths, well trained, well cared for and armed with superb weapons.”
And so it is today that we reveal ourselves, to honor those men who gave their lives, to speak for a grateful nation to those men whose gallantry preserved our freedom and who give us cause to reflect and draw strength from their sacrifice. Those of us who still serve, and all Americans alike, honor our heroes and remember their deeds.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his poem The Building of The Ship:
“Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, our faith triumphant o’er our fears, are all with thee-are all with thee.”
May we never forget those who remain on eternal patrol.
DOLPHIN SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION
A Heritage of Promoting Knowledge Through Giving
Since 1961, countless numbers of the submarine force wives have heroically donated their energies and time to organize and raise funds to assist dependent children of Navy Submariners and Submarine Support Activities personnel to receive grants for a college education. The grant selection system was established to support a blind and independent process based solely on the information contained in the application.
Today, the Foundation sponsors 100 ongoing scholars with a grant of $2,000/year. The recipients may receive a total of $8,000 for up to four years of undergraduate studies. Approximately 25 new scholarships are awarded each year. The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation is proud to have awarded in excess of $2. 7 million to over 570 students attending universities and colleges throughout the United States.
Currently the Foundation receives funds through: Navy Submarine Officer Wives Club fund raisers and Dolphin Stores, individual and corporate contributions, Foundation calendar and book sales, memorial donations, and bequests.
The Foundation is a tax exempt Virginia not-for-profit corporation. All donations arc tax deductible.