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On Memorial Day, Subvets honor submariners and others who died while serving

Groton — Capt. Kenneth Curtin on Monday morning unexpectedly experienced what he called his most touching moment since taking over as commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base in September, as Lawrence Edge Jr. introduced himself ahead of a Memorial Day Observance.

Edge's father was Cmdr. Lawrence Edge, commanding officer of the USS Bonefish, the second to last submarine lost at the end of World War II. Eighty-five sailors were lost.

Curtin said the younger Edge told him that he'd never met his father: Cmdr. Edge died two months before his son was born. Lawrence Edge Jr. is from Georgia and was passing through, deciding to stop by the event as he was headed somewhere else.

His story exemplifies "exactly what we're here to remember today: those military men and women who were doing their duty to protect their country," Curtin said.

United States Submarine Veterans Inc. Groton Base held a Memorial Day Observance at the SUBVETS WWII National Memorial East, in front of the marble wall bearing the names of the 3,617 submariners who were lost in World War II.

"From the banks of this river, we have sent many of these sailors to sea; from the banks of this river, their families prayed them off; and to the banks of this river they did not return," said chaplain Cdr. David Duprey in his benediction.

The ceremony included the tolling of the boats, in which two bells were rung for each submarine lost at sea before, during and after World War II, from the USS F-4 in 1915 to the USS Scorpion in 1968. Holding flags for each of the submarines, sailors from the Naval Submarine School lined the back and side of the rows of chairs where dozens of attendees sat.

The family of Norman Kuzel, a USSVI Groton member who died in December, laid down a wreath.

Curtin also recognized retired Master Chief Richard Hamill and Sharon Hamill, parents of the late Capt. Jason R. Hamill. A Salem native and East Lyme High School graduate, Jason Hamill died in 2006 serving in the Army in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

May is also Navy Gold Star Awareness Month, recognizing families of those who lost a loved one in active-duty service. For the first time, the Naval Submarine Base has a flag garden to commemorate the month, which Curtin called a reminder "that freedom isn't free."

Curtin assured those gathered on Memorial Day that he and others in active-duty service "will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail this nation nor the bold, courageous men and women who sacrificed their tomorrow to ensure our today."

e.moser@theday.com

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