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USS Emmons to get Memorial Plaque

Date Posted: 2001-10-08

The USS Emmons (DD-457/DMS-22), a veteran of World War II, was sunk in the waters off Okinawa on April 6, 1945. Re-discovered last winter by a team of divers led by Rich Ruth from Fathoms Dive Shop she remains in deep water lying on the sandy bottom off Kouri Island. For most divers on Okinawa this is not news. But several things have happened since her discovery and the flurry of diving on Emmons since last winter.

It was shortly after the February discovery Rich Ruth made immediate contact with the Emmons Survivor Association exchanging information about their ship with photos and video of their ship in her resting place. Ed Hoffman, a senior representative for the Emmons Survivors revealed that more than 90 survivors remain alive and stay well connected across the United States. These gentlemen, who valiantly fought their war, are all in the winter of their lives but remain intensely loyal to their ship. Since our first meeting with Ed, the Emmons Survivors have included Rich and me in their monthly newsletters and reported how pleased they were with the April 6th, 2001, memorial service organized by Rich and conducted by the Commander of Fleet Activities Okinawa, Navy Captain John Green. Most impressive, on that day, were the sentiments offered by the Captain, the CFAO Chaplain, the leadership from local chapters of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the memorial wreaths they laid in the water 140 feet above the remains of Emmons.

Since that time hundreds of Japanese and American sport divers have been experienced the opportunity to dive Emmons and observe the reality of what occurred on Emmons when she was struck by five attacking kamikaze aircraft. Many have been moved to comment but now, less than nine months since her re-discovery, someone has stepped forward to organize the installation of a commemorative plaque on Emmons. Don Martin, a retired Marine, has been working with the cooperation of the Emmons Survivorís Association for the past month and is now arranging to prepare and securely place a bronze plaque bearing the names of all those killed on Emmons.

After his first dive on the sunken ship Don told me that he was moved to do something that would honor the warriors that gave their lives serving their country. As a Marine, Don said that he served on several ships for extended periods of time during many deployments. He understands the relationship that those who go to sea have with their ship and wants to do something meaningful and lasting that will honor those who served and those who died. The reaction from the Emmons Association has been fully positive. Ed Hoffman released plans in their last newsletter that members are now planning a re-union trip to Okinawa this April in order to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the sinking of Emmons.

For those of you that may have experienced diving on Emmons you may want to help defray the cost of casting the bronze plaque by making a donation to the Emmons Survivor Plaque fund. Dollars or Yen will be gratefully accepted in helping make this project move forward. Don has collected all the names of the fallen and has received a firm estimate of $1,400 for a custom bronze plaque to me made and shipped to Okinawa. Your help is solicited and will help us all remember the price that has been paid in defense of a country. Give it a thought and contact Don at martind82@hotmail.com

For more information about the last days of Emmons log on www.bensonlivermore.destroyers.org/emmonshist.html. For recent photos of Emmons in her final resting place click over to www.jwchandler.com/emmons.htm . Here you will find a recap of her fight on April 6th and photos of our winter and summer dives on Emmons. Those who are interested in diving on the Emmons contact Rich Ruth at 090 8766 0868 or email Rich at getwet@fathoms.net.

Fish PIC of the week. This week we find the reefs are guarded by what I call the "Frecklefaced Hawkfish," however, the marine biologists call it the Blackside hawkfish (Paracirrhites Forsteri). You will see these colorful creatures perched atop coral mounds ready to pounce on their prey. Don't worry though this hawkfish is shown in its actual size here and is not a threat to your safe and fun diving. They are fun to watch though! Best wishes from the Beach

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