News

'Lest We Forget'

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

Hundreds of people will gather together at the Naval Undersea Museum next week to remember the more than 2,000 people who died on Dec. 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport will host its 14th annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony, “Lest We Forget,” at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7, in the Naval Undersea Museum auditorium. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

“We are honored to do this for the survivors each year and we fully appreciate the sacrifices of the survivors and those who participated in World War II,” said Diane Jennings, NUWC Division Keyport spokeswoman.

Sixty-six years ago, Japanese forces attacked the Pearl Harbor military base killing more than 2,000 people, destroying hundreds of planes and ships and crippling the United States Pacific Fleet. The attack resulted in the United States declaring war on Japan and becoming involved in World War II.

Capt. Mike Mathews, retired U.S. Navy, will present the touching ceremony which includes a slide show about the attack with “stories of personal valor exhibited by our military,” according to a news release. Mathews is a former commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor’s Trident Training Facility. He now works in the Systems Acceptance and Operational Readiness Department at NUWC Division Keyport.

Navy Band Northwest will provide music at the ceremony and the Lake Washington VFW Post 2995 Honor Guard is scheduled to perform. Roughly 12 Pearl Harbor survivors from the Puget Sound area are scheduled to attend the remembrance ceremony and give testimonies about their experiences on that infamous December day in 1941. Jennings said family members of men and women who were at Pearl Harbor in 1941 also will attend the event and be recognized.

“We’re getting a good response from survivors saying they’ll attend the ceremony,” Jennings said.

Capt. Jonathan Dowell, commander of NUWC Division Keyport, will emcee the ceremony. His family has a special tie to Pearl Harbor. Dowell’s grandfather, Jonathan S. Dowell, and father, Steven Dowell, were at the military base in 1941 when it was attacked by Japanese forces.

The elder Dowell was the commanding officer of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Lualualei, Hawaii at the time, according to Jennings. On the morning of the attack, the elder Dowell rushed into 17-year-old Steven’s bedroom and said, “Get up Stevie, they caught us with our pants down!”

New to this year’s remembrance ceremony is a display of photos and newspaper articles in the lobby of the Naval Undersea Museum. The photos and newspaper articles will depict the attack on Pearl Harbor and the lives of the survivors in attendance during Friday’s ceremony.

Jennings anticipates about 350-400 people will attend the Pearl Harbor remembrance event. Past events drew large crowds to the museum.

“On significant anniversary events in the past, the auditorium was overflowing with people,” she said. “We’d have to start turning people away.”

Although the number of living Pearl Harbor survivors is steadily decreasing, Jennings said Keyport hopes to host a Pearl Harbor remembrance event each year.

“This is something we will continue to do for them as long as we can,” Jennings said.

For more information about the Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony, contact NUWC Division Keyport’s Public Affairs Office at (360) 396-2699.

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