At each reunion, we set aside some time for a special service to remember and honor those sailors and their ladies who have passed away. Services vary according to location and host and, if possible, we try to have active duty military service members involved. Selected crew members read the names of departed shipmates, with the tolling of a ship’s bell for each name.
Often taps are played. Sometimes a gun salute is rendered. The Navy Hymn may be sung; prayers and other words of tribute are given. A special wreath is presented and sometimes thrown into the briny deep.
At our Phoenix 2014 reunion, Mike Balog read a very touching introduction he co-wrote with Jack Summers:
Greetings to our distinguished guests, family, and to our shipmates from the USS Lloyd Thomas. We gather here at this beautiful memorial, oddly enough in the middle of a desert, to remember our Navy and its men and women who have served America during our entire history as a free nation. We stand amidst the memory of heroes, and artifacts of their service. To the east of us rests one of the anchors from the USS Arizona, salvaged from the mud of Pearl Harbor in the weeks after December 7, 1941.
To the west is the mainmast yardarm, also salvaged from the USS Arizona. We stand here between two gun barrels, the 14” from the USS Arizona prior to its destruction and the 16” from the USS Missouri, the ship upon whose decks the instruments of surrender were signed in 1945. These long-silent weapons represent the beginning and the end of World War 2. In this peaceful place, they have symbolically been transformed from swords to plowshares.
After the names of the departed were read, “Taps” was played by a young man named Mason Lyle, grandson of Jack Summers.
This is a very special service and taken seriously. We have reproduced the 2014 Memorial Program in HTML and in PDF formats. The list of names on the program is gathered by word of mouth, so if you know of a fellow sailor or his spouse that has gone west and is not included in the list, please forward his name and years of service on the Lloyd Thomas to Scott Sheffer.