On Friday, December 7, 2018, Arizona veterans and their families, and other guests, gathered together at Wesley Bolin Plaza at the Arizona Capitol to honor the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Honored guests at the ceremony included Pearl Harbor survivors and Arizona residents Jack Holder, Edward Miklavcic, Maurice Storck, and Archie Kelly, as well as Governor Doug Ducey and other local dignitaries. A WWII-era B-17 bomber did a flyover of the ceremony and a 48-star flag was raised.
Governor Ducey speech included the following:
“Today, it is with great humility, that we gather at the anchor of the battleship USS Arizona to remember each of these lives that were taken from us. December 7, 1941, is among history’s darkest moments. But today, we remember that amid all the death, destruction and chaos, emerged some of the most incredible demonstrations of bravery, heroism and sacrifice.”
US Navy Commander Justin Collins was the days keynote speaker. His speech included the following recollection about visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor:
“It was a beautiful day with a nice sea breeze. We were on vacation, life was great,” Collins said. “But as stepped onto the memorial, my mood changed drastically. A sudden sadness fell over me — a sadness I’d only felt at funerals of friends and family.”
He continued with:
“Sailors give a ship a soul and make it the most powerful asset in the defense of this great nation. As I peered down in the hull of the Arizona, I wasn’t looking at a decommissioned ship — some piece of metal acting as a reef. It wasn’t like my ships that had been decommissioned, because this one still had 1,102 of my shipmates on board.”
Willie Composite Squadron was represented by C/Capt Jacob Kottraba who joined Maj Ron Marks of Deer Valley Composite Squadron in laying the CAP wreath at the anchor of the USS Arizona.
Click here for more information about the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes the USS Arizona Memorial.