When 15 World War II submarine veterans entered an outdoor pavilion recently at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, the capacity crowd rose to their feet.
The veterans make the trek every year to Kings Bay for a ceremony remembering the 52 US submarines lost and over 3,400 sailors killed.
The commanding officer at Kings Bay, Captain Brian Lepine, said that he stood in awe of the veterans.
He went on to praise the veterans for their bravery in serving in one of the most dangerous duties of the war. One in five submarines were lost, most of those had no survivors.
Submarines made up only two percent of the Navy in WWII, but they were responsible for more than half of the Japanese vessels sunk in the war. US subs sank 30 percent of the Japanese Navy and eight aircraft carriers.
Lepine said that the veterans set the standard that sailors of today strive to meet.
Admiral Bill Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, said that it was a tremendous honor to be invited to speak before the veterans, GoldenIsles.news reported.
Moran met with some of the veterans before the ceremony and heard their stories of why they enlisted. One veteran confessed to lying about his age so that he could enlist at 15 years old.
Sailors on submarines knew the dangers of serving on submarines but were willing to risk it.
Moran said that the role of the submarine in the US Navy has not gone away. “There are those who would challenge us.”