PEARL HARBOR - Just a few days shy of the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Sailors and Marines manned the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as they entered the harbor Dec. 3.
Passing by the USS Arizona memorial, the crew on board Nimitz paid tribute to their fallen comrades in the hallowed waters below.
"It really is surreal," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Daniel Routhier, assigned to the "Wolf Pack" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75, one of eight squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, embarked on Nimitz.
Routhier, who has experienced paying honors to Arizona before, said doing so gave him an immense amount of pride in the Navy, and in being able to continue the tradition of saluting the memorial.
Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Michalle Boyce manned the rails of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) while passing the Arizona in 2004, and has volunteered to do so with every opportunity she has since been given. Boyce's grandfather served on the USS Oklahoma during the attack, and being able to render a salute to the Sailors lost in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack has become a point of personal pride.
"Every time I stand up there I feel goosebumps when we pass the Arizona," Boyce said. "It is a very powerful experience."
Nimitz, along with embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, CVW- 11 and Destroyer Squadron 23 made the brief stop while headed home after an eight-and-a-half month deployment to the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibilities (AORs).
"I am especially proud of our crew, and all the work they have done over the duration of this deployment," said Rear Adm. Michael S. White, commander, CSG 11.
Upon departing Pearl Harbor, Nimitz is scheduled to continue east toward San Diego, before returning home to Everett, Wash., before the end of the year.