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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    Norwich honors men killed in Pearl Harbor attack 82 years ago

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Irvine of the pre-commissioning unit Arizona (SSN 803) hands flowers to Rozann Valenti of Bozrah on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, with her cousin James Quarto, of Norwich, right, by her side during the Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony in the Norwich City Hall Council Chambers. Valenti and Quarto lost family member Michael Quatro, a crew member on the USS Arizona, in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The PCU Arizona (SSN 803), a Virginia-class submarine, is under construction at Electric Boat in Groton. The ceremony was held by the Norwich Area Veterans Council. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Tom Callinan, right, the former state troubadour, sings the national anthem with the Naval Submarine School Color Guard at attention Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, during the Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony in the Norwich City Hall Council Chambers. The ceremony was held by the Norwich Area Veterans Council. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Lt. Cmdr. Emil Scown, front row left, of the pre-commissioning unit Arizona (SSN 803) and crew stand at attention Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, during the Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony in the Norwich City Hall Council Chambers. The PCU Arizona (SSN 803), a Virginia-class submarine is under construction at Electric Boat in Groton. Sailors who attend the Naval Submarine School in Groton are in the back row. The ceremony was sponsored by the Norwich Area Veterans Council. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Norwich ― Marking the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States into World War II, Navy Capt. Jason Deichler recalled being stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and staring out across the shimmering water at the stark memorial that stands above the sunken USS Arizona battleship.

    Deichler, the guest speaker at Norwich’s seventh annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony held Thursday at City Hall, now serves as deputy commander of Submarine Squadron 12, which includes the new fast-attack submarine, USS Arizona. Members of the sub’s crew participated in Thursday’s ceremony, along with the Silver Dolphins color guard from the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

    “The gallant men of the battleship Arizona ultimately fought through that tragic day with acts of heroism and valor, many of which were never captured in much-deserved award citations,” Deichler said.

    Deichler named Storekeeper 3rd Class Harry Carlson and Seaman 1st Class Michael Quarto, both of Norwich, who were killed on the Arizona that day, as among those who set the examples of honor, courage, commitment and selfless dedication for members of the submarine Arizona to carry on.

    “That is the legacy, the unique thumbprint that Harry and Michael and every sailor on the battleship Arizona has passed to the next crew, the Arizona submarine crew, members of whom stand before us today,” he said.

    Sitting in the audience, Jim Quarto, nephew of Michael Quarto, noted silently that the young faces of Arizona crew members, in their Navy dress blue uniforms, were the same age as his uncle and many others who lost their lives that day. Quarto said he has great respect for the submarine crew as they represent that need for America to be always ready. Quarto and his cousin, Rozann Valenti, attended Thursday’s event.

    “It’s something we have to remember,” Quarto said.

    Members of Quarto and Carlson families said they felt honored that Norwich remembered their families’ sacrifices more than 80 years ago. They praised John Waggoner of the Norwich Area Veterans Council, who has organized the memorial ceremony for the past seven years. Waggoner contacts family members months ahead of time each year to invite them to the ceremony and ask them to bring memorabilia from their loved ones.

    A table in front of Council Chambers displayed framed portraits of Carlson and Quarto, newspapers with blaring headlines announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor and models of the USS Arizona.

    “I think it’s lovely that Norwich keeps doing the ceremony,” said Naomi Crowley, niece of Harry Carlson. “We are honored that they do this.”

    Crowley, her sister Rosalyn Lachapelle and brother Gregory Carlson attended Thursday’s ceremony.

    During the ceremony, Waggoner read a dramatic account of the attack, describing how one armor-piercing bomb crashed through the Arizona’s deck and exploded in a powder magazine below. An attendee in the crowded Council Chambers groaned at the image. As more bombs hit the Arizona, its deck “opened like a flower,” Waggoner said. The fire burned for two days, and 1,177 crewmen were killed.

    As Waggoner read the names of the men from Connecticut who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Norwich Alderman William Nash rang a bell for each name. The list included William Seeley of New London.

    Waggoner said he tried unsuccessfully to find members of Seeley’s family to invite to Thursday’s ceremony.

    Callinan on Thursday also sang “Remember Pearl Harbor,” which was written one week after the attack in 1941. Callinan said he thinks it’s the best of many tribute songs for the attack.

    Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we go to meet the foe.

    Let’s remember Pearl Harbor as we did the Alamo.

    We will always remember how they died for liberty.

    Let’s remember Pearl Harbor and go on to victory.

    Callinan sang a post-script to the final chorus:

    “We remembered Pearl Harbor and went on to victory.”

    c.bessette@theday.com

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