Memorial dive honors fallen Sailors aboard USS Emmons
By Chip Steitz
10th RSG Public Affairs
U.S. Army photo by Maj. James Leary
Master Sgt. Troy Fitzgerald and Capts. Lanelle Picket and Rose Banning view a plaque placed on the USS Emmons at 140 feet below the surface of the water while conducting a memorial dive to the sunken ship May 25 in Okinawa.
TORII STATION, Okinawa - Six members of the 10th Regional Support Group here conducted a dive to the sunken USS Emmons May 25 in memory of those who served aboard the vessel 67 years ago.
The Emmons was part of some of the most significant battles during World War II, including service during the invasion of Normandy, the invasion of Italy and finally, the Battle of Okinawa. The ship was eventually sunk on June 7, 1945, after being struck by five kamikazes.
The 350-foot-long destroyer was attacked while providing aid to its sister ship, the USS Rodman. The Rodman survived the battle. Sixty Sailors aboard the Emmons died when it sank, and the remains of the ship currently rest at 140 feet below the surface of the water.
Col. Lance Koenig, commander of the 10th Regional Support Group, spoke of his experience getting to take part on the memorial dive and also reiterated the sacrifice made by those aboard the Emmons.
"Several times on a Memorial Day weekend, I found myself with an opportunity to pay my respect and visit memorial sites when I was stationed in Europe," said Koenig. "It’s always special to take the opportunity to honor those who served in the U.S. military. There are 60 Sailors still with the USS Emmons who deserve our respect at this memorial site. It’s important that we take time to pay tribute to these brave individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice."
Approximately 20 survivors from the USS Emmons are still alive, said retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Chuck DeCesari, who maintains the memorial site.
"Myself and a few other divers have been maintaining the USS Emmons for about eight years," said DeCesari. "I am just happy that the USS Emmons and its crew are not forgotten. I cannot imagine being on a ship and having airplanes crashing into you. I feel overwhelmed every time I see it."
"This was truly one of the most memorable experiences I have had while on Okinawa," said Maj. James Leary, deputy staff judge advocate for the 10th RSG. "The actions of these Sailors were truly amazing, and I am honored to have been able to participate in this event."