|OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY||
HONOLULU (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) honored 16 USS Oklahoma (BB 37) survivors with a flag presentation ceremony during a dinner reception Dec. 7.
Survivors, family members, and Oklahoma supporters gathered at the reception to honor and commemorate the Sailors that lost their lives 66 years ago during the attacks on Pearl Harbor, a tragic event which would thrust the United States into World War II. These Sailors were aboard the Oklahoma when it was capsized after five torpedoes impacted the ship's port side.
"I was so honored to meet the survivors," said Assistant Communications Officer, Ensign Lisa Bydairk. "I have such a great amount of respect for these men and what they went through."
The Oklahoma suffered the second largest loss of life out of all the ships that were attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the first being the USS Arizona (BB 39).
The reception included a slide show with pictures of the Oklahoma crew members and a speech by historian Kevin King, who helped to make the memorial a reality.
Each flag was ceremoniously raised and lowered immediately following the dedication and was accompanied by a personalized certificate with the exact time that the flag was raised.
After the slow salute from the Russell Sailor, each survivor was given the opportunity to say a few words if they so desired. Many spoke of the tragedy that occurred on that day and what the memorial meant to them after so many years.
"I feel like these guys can finally rest in peace," said Oklahoma survivor and San Diego resident Jim Bounds. "We have been praying about this for so many years and we were the only ship that didn't have a memorial. I am so happy that this day has come."
After 66 years, the 429 Oklahoma Sailors who perished on that day of infamy would now finally have a memorial, situated on historic Ford Island, close to where Oklahoma was berthed when the attacks occurred.