A lone sailor’s cap on an empty chair captured the emotional moment at the 75th anniversary commemoration of Pearl Harbor at the Keyport Naval Undersea Museum in 2016. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

After 23 years, ‘Taps’ sounds for NUWC Keyport’s Pearl Harbor, POW/MIA Day commemorations

KEYPORT — After almost a quarter century, Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport is sounding “Taps” for its POW/MIA and Pearl Harbor commemorations.

Last year, only two Pearl Harbor survivors were able to attend the 75th anniversary remembrance of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The veterans of the Greatest Generation are almost all gone; 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive as of Sept. 6, according to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

And now one of the U.S. Navy’s longest-running remembrances in Kitsap County is vanishing, too.

The cancellation of memorial services at the Naval Undersea Museum is being done in order “to better devote resources to community outreach events more aligned with our mission, and to avoid redundancy with similar area events,” according to the Navy public affairs office.

“NUWC Keyport remains engaged in efforts to honor these days, and when invited and available, will attend and speak at POW/MIA ceremonies and similar community and veterans’ organization events.”

For example, officials note that this year Cmdr. Carlos Cintron, executive officer of NUWC Keyport, will be the guest speaker at the VFW Post 239 POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony on Sept. 15. (According to the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 73,119 U.S. military personnel from World War II are listed as “unrecovered”; 7,736 from the Korean War are listed as “unrecovered”; 1,603 from the Vietnam War are listed as “unrecovered”; and 126 from the Cold War are listed as “unrecovered.”)

NUWC Keyport provides technical support for America’s undersea defense efforts. NUWC Keyport has facilities and operations in California, Guam, Hawaii, British Columbia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, and personnel working in several other states and countries.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

The empty podium and cased flags commemorate the passing of a generation and almost a quarter-century of honoring one of the darkest — and ultimately greatest — days of infamy in U.S. history. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

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