Keyport museum relives ‘Day of Infamy’

Retired naval officer Wes Carey was not present for the infamous attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but he frequently relives the day.

Carey, retired from a 32-year Navy career, has been the organizer and keynote speaker for the Keyport Pearl Harbor remembrance day event since its inception. He will return again this weekend as the 10th “Lest We Forget” ceremony begins at 2 p.m., Dec. 7, at Keyport’s Naval Undersea Museum.

The event draws hundreds of veterans from the Kitsap Peninsula. In 2001, an understandably large group of veterans attended to mark the 60th anniversary of the attack. But a similar showing in 2002 proved the event’s staying power.

“The last two years, the museum has been overflowing. We’ve had a full house,” NUWC Keyport Public Affairs Officer Diane Jennings said. “I hope it will be as well attended this year, too.”

The program, which Carey has presented at venues across the United States, includes a slide show of actual photos of the Pearl Harbor attacks. A commentary accompanies, including personal stories from soldiers involved in the day.

“He does such a wonderful job and the photos are so moving,” Jennings said. “You see the bombs. You see the fires. You see the ships turning over and the smoke.”

Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance are also given the chance to take up the microphone and tell their own stories after Carey’s tribute.

Carey served on 11 different ships during his Navy career and had two tours ashore in Vietnam. His renewed interest in Dec. 7, 1941 came while he was stationed in Pearl Harbor in 1970. He worked at the battleship USS Arizona Memorial where he grew passionate about preserving the memories of the attacks.

Later, Carey was stationed in an area where he was disheartened to find little patriotism among community members. He put together the slide show and began presenting it at local schools to bolster support for local military personnel. Carey retired from Keyport in 1995 but not before he introduced a totally new audience to his historical labor of love.

“He likes to tell the stories. He doesn’t want the history to be forgotten,” Jennings said.

Carey also holds extensive credits in film, video and radio. He was a technical advisor and actor for the movie “Under Siege” and has also produced several documentaries on veterans including “Letters to the Wall,” and “Tears of Gold: The Story of Gold Star Wives.”

His newest film, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the GI Bill, will be released in 2004 at a gala event in New York.

“We’re really lucky to have Wes here,” Jennings said.

The Dec. 7 Keyport event will also include music from the Navy Band Northwest and the Kitsap Chordsmen.

Parking and admission to this event is free. For more information, call (360) 396-4148.

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