Memorial Day, when we honor those who made the supreme sacrifice defending their country, has passed once again but there is one place in Southern California that brings those sacrifices to a much more personal basis. It is the United States Submarine World War 2 National Memorial West.
It is located at the Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach on Seal Beach Blvd. As you enter there is this message, "Walk softly stranger, Walk softly, You tread on hallowed ground." Indeed one does for here are bronze plaques, 52 in number, that tell of the submarines and the men who manned them, that were lost in that war. Each bronze plaque lists the name of the Submarine, the date it was missing in action, and the names of every man aboard that ship.
Those 52 carved stones list the 374 officers and 3131 sailors that are in the Navy termed "Still on Patrol".
The day of this Writer's visit I was the only one there. Traffic flowed on nearby Pacific Coast Highway but here it was still and peaceful and a perfect setting for thinking appreciatively about so many young men and how they had died. When moving from one stone marker to the next a pattern developed showing that almost one submarine a month was lost during that struggle in the Pacific. Also that most of the markers included the statement "Lost All Hands". It should be remembered that every one of those officers and sailors was a volunteer since the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service has always been open to volunteers only.
As one enters the Memorial Park there is a World War 2 torpedo mounted on a stone monument. This Monument also lists the names of the eight submariners who earned the Medal of Honor for their deeds. Then the bronze plaques encompassing a large half circle. This Writer passed from one marker to the next, reading the names of ship and shipmates, here at least, remembered to future generations.
To visit this Memorial one enters the driveway of the Weapons Station and then turns left to the end of a large parking lot. There you will find the Park. Allow plenty of time for a visit. The men remembered here certainly deserve that.
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