Subvets Honor Crew of USS Tullibee - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/02/03

Subvets Honor Crew of USS Tullibee

Mississippi is now one of 45 other states that fulfilled its obligation to lost submarines and submariners of World War II. Saturday, Mississippi honored the 80 member crew of the USS Tullibee, that was lost in 1944, by placing a memorial at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs.

Architect Al Hammond shares a creed with fellow submarine veterans: 'to continue the legacy of his shipmates who gave their lives while serving their county.'  Saturday that creed, was forever etched in stone. Hammond designed the Tullibee memorial. 

"This is the first of it's kind in the United States that we know of, and we are awful proud of it," Hammond said.

Stricken with Parkinson's disease, Hammond sometimes had to use his feet to control the mouse for his computer drafting program.

"Hammond has a physical condition but he has spent many many hours developing this memorial that you see before you, research, drafting, program, and modifying to the extent of what it is today" Mississippi Commander of Submarine Veterans of WWII, Bobby Hayes said.

Mississippi Marble and Granite company made Hammond's vision a reality. Some of the engraving was done by hand, with a diamond tipped engraver. For Clifford Kuykendale, the sole survivor of the Tullibee attack, the memorial symbolizes pride in his ship mates.

"It's the most wonderful memorial I've ever seen," Kuykendale said.

On the night the Tullibee went down, Kuykendale was on watch on the deck of the sub. The Tullibee attempted to fire torpedos at a Japanese ship when the torpedo malfunctioned, came back around and hit the sub.

"The next thing I knew I was one hundred feet in the air looking straight down," Kuykendale said.

Kuykendale remembers his time as a prisoner of the Japanese, and takes solace in a flag that waves proudly in front of the monument. A flag that represents the freedom his fellow shipmates sacrificed their lives for.

Sometime later this year, Hammond hopes to add a periscope and torpedo to the monument.

By Nathan Mihelich

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