A ceremony to mark the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was held Thursday on the last warship to have witnessed the assault that’s still afloat.
Military personnel, veterans and members of the public gathered for a chilly noontime ceremony aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter 37 on Pier 5.
Capt. Andrew Pecora, commander of the Surface Forces Logistics Center in Baltimore, played a recording of the alarm that the crew of 280 men would have heard. He discussed the other roles the historic ship has played.
“Whether it was during World War II, Korea or Vietnam, we are sitting aboard world history where heroes ate, slept and fought, and each of us has a duty to maintain and continue their memory and legacy,” said Pecora, who recalled visiting the vessel as a boy growing up in Baltimore.
The ceremony included a bagpipe procession by the St. Andrew’s Society of Baltimore, a reading of the number of people who died on each ship followed by the ringing of a large bell, the raising of a Pearl Harbor Survivors Association flag, the placing of a floral wreath in the water by a handful of veterans, and the playing of taps.
Ken Jones of the Baltimore Museum of Industry gave a presentation on how local businesses sprung into action to support the war effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor. State Del. Nino Mangione of Baltimore County, a descendant of World War II veterans, called presiding over Thursday’s ceremony one of the greatest honors of his life.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the ship was operating with other U.S. Navy vessels based in Honolulu when Japan launched a surprise attack a short distance away at Pearl Harbor. A total of 2,390 American service members and civilians were killed, according to the National Park Service. As naval ships were destroyed or damaged under the barrage of Japanese bombing, Cutter 37 (then known as Coast Guard Cutter Roger B. Taney) remained afloat and was credited with saving the Honolulu Power Plant.
Throughout the rest of World War II, the ship was awarded four battle stars for service, including one during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. After the war, the ship resumed peacetime Coast Guard duties, including ocean weather patrol, search and rescue, and law enforcement operations.
Cutter 37 was decommissioned in 1986 and designated as a National Historic Landmark two years later after more than 50 years of service, according to Historic Ships in Baltimore.