World War II veterans, Pearl Harbor survivors, service members, and family members gathered at Hospital Point on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to honor and commemorate the Nevada-class battleship USS Nevada (BB 36) Dec. 8.
Pictured: USS Nevada survivor Geb Galle speaks with U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William R. Burks, Adjutant General for the State of Nevada, before a commemoration ceremony at the USS Nevada Memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared E. Walker/Released).
During the ceremony, retired Adm. Samuel Cox, director of Navy History and Heritage Command, spoke about the history of Nevada and the tribulation its crew endured 75 years ago.
“The Navy today says that our core values are honor, courage, and commitment,” said Cox. “We stress core attributes like integrity, initiative, and toughness. Well, 75 years ago, yesterday, the crew of the Nevada showed the Navy and the world the true meaning of what those words really mean.”
A torpedo hit Nevada, the eldest battleship in Pearl Harbor, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The damage inflicted allowed a considerable amount of water into the ship, and with the ship’s commander and executive officer ashore, it was up to the junior officers and crew to take charge and get Nevada moving.
The damaged Nevada got underway at 0840 and steamed down the channel toward the shipyard. While in transit, the battleship became a target for the second wave of enemy dive-bombers, which hit her repeatedly, causing more leaks in the hull. This started gasoline fires and other blazes to her superstructure and mid-ship area. It was then that Nevada ran aground off Hospital Point.
“Seventy-six Sailors and Marines lost their lives due to the wounds that they sustained as a result of the attack,” said Cmdr. Tom Gorey, chief staff officer of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “Today we honor those service members and their sacrifice.”
It was through the initiative, toughness, and resilience of the Nevada crew and other ships in the area that helped make the initial Japanese attack unsuccessful.
“When you consider that the general quarters alarm went off at 0801, the machine gun anti-aircraft battery was firing by 0802, and by 0803, the 5-inch batteries were firing on the Japanese,” said Cox. “That’s actually an incredible, astonishing, rapid reaction to what was going on in the battle. In fact, Adm. Nagumo, who was the commander of the Japanese task force that struck Pearl Harbor, in his post-attack report, stated after the first five minutes, the intensity of the anti-aircraft fire from the U.S. ships was so great that it practically negated the effect of surprise.
Among those in attendance was Geb Galle, a Machinist’s Mate 1st Class serving aboard Nevada during the attack.
“You can carry your hatred all of your life,” said Galle. “You have to remember, they had a leader who led them astray. We’re at peace now and I feel comfortable. I have no qualm. We’re all good people.”
Since the attack 75 years ago, the U.S. and Japan have endured more than 70 years of peace, a partnership that has become a foundation of security and prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The ceremony included a reading of the names of USS Nevada Sailors killed in action; a song presentation by Don Eudaly, son of a World War II veteran; and a Nevada Centennial plaque presentation.
“I would like to offer up my personal thanks to the crew of the Nevada…for what you did,” said Cox. “It saved our country, it saved our way of life, and there’s no way we could give you enough thanks. The example that was set by the crew of the Nevada inspires the Navy and the Sailors of our generation… and it’s my mission to make sure that it keeps inspiring Sailors for as long as there is a United States Navy.”
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter,
Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii