(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth
Assistant Editor, Ho’okele
Sailors from USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) gathered at the Battleship Missouri Memorial on April 14 for a ceremony honoring the memory of those who served aboard the USS Sigsbee.
The ceremony was held to pay respects to the 23 Sailors who lost their lives when a kamikaze suicide plane struck the ship on April 14, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa.
This annual ceremony is usually held aboard USS Chung-Hoon, but the ship is currently undergoing repairs. However, the location of this year’s event is fitting as the USS Missouri suffered its own kamikaze attack on April 11, 1945 in waters northeast of Okinawa.
At the time of the kamikaze attack on Sigsbee, the commanding officer was Cmdr. (later rear admiral) Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, namesake of the USS Chung-Hoon.
The attack knocked the ship’s port engine and steering control out of commission and caused the starboard engine to be capable of running at only five knots. Despite the damage, Chung-Hoon continued to direct the ship’s anti-aircraft fire, while at the same time directing damage control parties that saved Sigsbee. The ship managed to make it to port under its own power.
“The Sigsbee wasn’t as well-armored as other ships but was well-prepared, thanks to her commanding officer,” said Cmdr. Ryan Collins, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon.
“In the minutes, hours and days following the attack, the performance of the Sigsbee’s crew was something to marvel at,” he said. “We strive to live up to their heroism.”
Chung-Hoon received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of Sigsbee from May 1944 to October 1945. Chung-Hoon was also a Pearl Harbor survivor, assigned to the battleship USS Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
USS Chung-Hoon’s ceremonial guard conducted a three-volley salute and Sailors dropped flower petals off the side of Missouri into the waters of Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to the Sigsbee Sailors who lost their lives.