As the bell tolled, the names of each of the 52 United States Navy submarines that had sailed to a watery grave during World War II were read out during a memorial service at Albany, Western Australia, on Sunday.
The ceremony was attended by serving United States and Australian submariners, their families, ex-submariners and distinguished guests.
United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Travis Zettel said that following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, US Submarines and their crews were dispatched to the ports of Fremantle and Albany in the early part of 1942.
“Thanks to the courage, audacity, and resolve of the Australians, US submariners found more than just a safe place to moor. They received parts, provisions, industrial facilities and the help of people who knew how to use them. They found an ally, a friend, a mate. Some of these sailors found life-long partners,” he said.
“The US Submarine effort during World War II was astounding, particularly when you consider they launched 521 patrols from Australia and sunk a total of 1,722,000 tons of shipping,” he said.
But it came at a high cost – in total 3505 men were lost as were 52 submarines, 16 of which had sailed from Australia.
The chance to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice from the very shore from which they sailed is important to Lieutenant Commander Zettel.
“Those 3505 men of the US WW2 Submarine Force on eternal patrol were someone’s father, brother, son, or mate, and they fought and sacrificed,” he said.
And to honour those brave men whilst standing alongside his Australian friends is an equally important moment for him.
“Seventy two years ago a kindred spirit reached out to the United States in its greatest hour of need and provided its navy and army a safe haven from which they could eventually turn the tide,” he said, “The crucible of a global conflict forged a bond that continues and remains strong to this day.”
“Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen have served and continue to serve side by side all over the world: on the waters of the Pacific and the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam and the mountains of Afghanistan.”
Lest we forget.
More images are available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20141508