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Sailors Reflect, Honor Veterans at Oahu Cemetery

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

HONOLULU (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) brought their gloves, rakes and power washer units to clean up the Navy Veterans cemetery in Oahu Cemetery Honolulu Nov. 9.

Led by Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Jerry Lawyer and hosted by the Surface Navy Association (SNA), the Chafee crew and about 40 volunteers from various commands participated in the project as part of preparations for Veterans Day.

"This is a great opportunity to pay our respects to these national heroes, both past and present," said Lawyer. "It is always an honor to work with and learn from those who have been through what we are going through as service members."

Hal Lewis, the cemetery site supervisor, welcomed the volunteers during the cloudy morning. "The more help we can get, the better," said Lewis. "We appreciate it."

The SNA suggests events geared toward Sailors' professional development and community outreach. SNA sponsors the cemetery clean up twice a year, both on Veterans Day and on Memorial Day.

"Each holiday, a different ship will volunteer to take the lead on the clean up project," said Cmdr. Mike Freeman (ret.) of SNA.

The volunteers cleaned and straightened several headstones. They also performed minor gardening as well.

The cemetery is located on an 80 by 40 yard piece of property purchased by the Navy. The plot was acquired in 1935, and a trust fund was established for the maintenance of the site.

"It's been there for quite some time," said Lewis. "There are still some available plots for anyone in the Navy who wants to be buried there."

There are more than 170 gravesites, 135 of which are in use. The earliest grave markers are dated in the 1800s and the earliest interments were in 2002.

"I see the ultimate sacrifice that these men and women made for us, a lot of us not even born yet," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Isaac Davis, assigned to Chafee. "The fact that they are willing to fight for our freedom and to make sure that we are able to walk around free and have rights… They've made the ultimate sacrifice. This is just a small price for us to do in their honor."

Story Number: NNS091111-05 Release Date: 11/11/2009 3:51:00 PM

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