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At Sea: USS Pearl Harbor Commanding Officer Pays Homage to Namesake

“It seems fitting that the ship that carries the name Pearl Harbor is deployed on this historic day.”

This blog post is written by Navy Cmdr. Homer Denius III, commanding officer of USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). Denius delves into his personal feelings of being the skipper of a ship named to commemorate the heroic actions of both service members, and citizens of Pearl Harbor during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Pearl Harbor CO and Peal Harbor vets
101208-N-7948R-354 PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 8, 2010) Cmdr. Homer R. Denius III, commanding officer of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), left, speaks with Pearl Harbor survivors at a commemoration ceremony for the battleship USS Nevada (BB 36) to mark the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/Released)

I’m writing you today from USS Pearl Harbor, the ship I’ve had the honor of commanding for more than a year now. In that time, I’ve had the chance to work with some of the finest men and women our nation has to offer. I’ve also had the privilege of showing this great vessel to those who served and were there when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place.

I’ve often said that this ship belongs to those veterans. The veterans who saw our nation under attack by a powerful enemy; who saw 2,459 Americans killed on that inauspicious day. Many of who received near fatal injuries themselves.

And yet, they fought on, defending their country and everything it stood for.

I know that most of you reading this don’t need a history lesson. The events of Dec. 7, 1941 are forever engrained in the American psyche.

Still, I believe it’s important to pay tribute and reflect on those heroes. Today, our Sailors and Marines are doing exactly that aboard this ship, on the 70th anniversary of the attack.

It seems fitting that the ship that carries the name Pearl Harbor is deployed on this historic day. The attacks taught us that the comforts of home are fragile and must not be taken for granted. We learned that we must maintain a forward-deployed fleet to protect our way of life. We travel around the globe with the understanding that, just like that day in 1941, the unexpected can happen at any time.

A year ago, on the 69th anniversary of the attacks, our ship was in Pearl Harbor near the end of our last deployment. Many crew members had the chance to meet survivors and I know it had a profound impact on them. From that point forward, I have noticed how much more pride they have in their ship, and they’ve told me how much being a part of the Pearl Harbor namesake means to them.

I know the Sailors and Marines aboard Pearl Harbor are ready for anything, because I’ve watched them prepare. We have trained extensively for the unexpected. We’re prepared to lend humanitarian aid to our friends around the world, and we’re prepared to take the fight to the enemy if the unthinkable should happen again.

But it’s more than that. Our presence is a testament to the American spirit. 70 years ago an unexpected attack left our fleet damaged beyond belief. Yet, we rebuilt, and thanks to the perseverance of that generation of heroes, our Navy has never been stronger.

We are forever grateful to that “Greatest Generation” of Americans.

So on behalf of the Sailors and Marines aboard the mighty warship USS Pearl Harbor, I want to say thank you for supporting us as we continue to defend our country. We are truly honored to carry the name Pearl Harbor.

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