Contributed by Midshipman Emily Gramer, 1/c, RPAO
KINGS POINT, N.Y., September 8, 2017 – Last Friday, the Class of 2021, joined by an audience that included Maritime Administrator and USMMA Alumnus, Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, USN (Retired); Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Superintendent and CAPT Mike Stroud, Commandant of Midshipmen, honored the lost sailors from the USS John S. McCain.
The observance focused attention on the table in the center of Delano Hall, set for the 10 sailors whose names were listed on placards where they would have been seated. Plebe Brendan McCarron shared words of remembrance, “On August 21st, 2017, The USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel near Singapore. Ten Sailors died in the line of duty, serving aboard the destroyer. Jacob Drake, John Hoagland, Dustin Doyon, Kevin Bushell, Timothy Eckels Jr., Charles Findley, Kenneth Smith, Logan Palmer, Abraham Lopez, and Corey Ingram all lost their lives. Today, we honor their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of all the brave men and women who have died in service to their country. Today, we remember.”
He went on to explain, “The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today, and we remember them. The table is set for ten. The tablecloth is white - symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation's call to arms. The chair is empty, for they are not here. The wine glass is inverted - they cannot toast with us this night. The slices of lemon - reminding us of their bitter suffering. The grains of salt - representing the countless tears of the families. The single red rose - reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. The burning candle and yellow ribbon - symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember all who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance - we will never forget their sacrifice. The wreath we now lay will symbolize the eternal watch we stand in our hearts for our lost comrades.”
The solemn ceremony concluded with Plebe Hunter Wyssbrod placing a wreath at the head of the table and Plebe Martin Hunley-Bota playing Taps.
Plebe Sarah Sires, who spearheaded the event said, “I hope that our message reaches the family and friends of the victims aboard the USS John McCain and that they know we are thinking of them and we are standing guard over their memories."
Afterward, Admiral Buzby, thanked the Plebe Class for remembering the sailors who had made the ultimate sacrifice and promised to pass along word of their heartfelt tribute.