USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - A ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor took place Dec. 7 aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) as the ship conducted operations in the western Pacific Ocean.
Hundreds of Makin Island Sailors and Marines from 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) stood in formation inside the hanger bay, taking a moment away from the high operational tempo of deployment, to honor those who served before them.
"While we remember the sadness that happened on that day, seeing all of you gathered here today in these Pacific waters, I couldn't be more proud to be a Sailor," said Capt. Jim Landers, Makin Island's commanding officer. "May God bless this ship and all who sail on her."
Landers said that the purpose of today's ceremony was not only to commemorate those who lost their lives on that tragic day in 1941, but to recognize the sacrifices of those who have fought and continue to fight for the nation's freedom.
"This is a very special day; it's especially significant to us as we, the Navy and Marine Corps team, remember together," said Landers. "It's special to us as we continue west to face our adversity and adversaries in our future."
Capt. Humberto Quintanilla II, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5, also spoke during the ceremony and focused his comments on how the Japanese failed to launch a third wave of the attack, which would have destroyed the shipyard repair and refueling infrastructure at Pearl Harbor. As a result, many of the ships were able to be repaired and join the U.S. Pacific Fleet to eventually defeat the Japanese empire.
"Pearl Harbor, a day that lives in infamy, has a lesson for us all as a nation," said Quintanilla. "The defense industrial base, the private corporate venture between the U.S. government and our high technology corporations, must continue to be strong."
Col. Michel Hudson, commanding officer, 11th MEU, also spoke during the ceremony.
"We go forward with our heads held high, but look back and remember where we come from," said Hudson.
Following the keynote speeches, Master Chief Steven Alt, Makin Island command master chief and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott T. Pile, 11th MEU, tossed a commemorative wreath into the water.
As the wreath floated off into the sea, three volleys were fired from a Marine rifle detail. Sailors and Marines then bowed their heads in silence to the playing of "Taps."
In addition to the ship's namesake, the Makin Island crew maintains a strong sense of World War II heritage. The ship visited historic Pearl Harbor Nov. 21-23, as the first port visit of their current deployment.
Makin Island, the Navy's newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."