Veterans Group Remembers Soldiers Killed In World War II - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/07/05

Veterans Group Remembers Soldiers Killed In World War II

"We were all in the same boat so to speak and we were members of the same organization, the submarine service," says submarine veteran Cliff Kuykendall.

But Kuykendall's service on the USS Tullibee came to an abrupt end on March 26th, 1944.

"I had only been on look out about 15 minutes and we fired 2 torpedoes at a Japanese transport," says Kuykendall. "And from all I know one of the torpedoes made an erratic, what they call an erratic circular run and came back and whacked us."

The explosion threw Kuykendall overboard where he witnessed the final minutes of the Tullibee, considered Mississippi's submarine, as it's lone survivor.

He still remembers and honors his 80 fallen comrades.

"I can remember their names and faces," he said. 

Kuykendall joined other submariners Saturday in remembering those on the Tullibee and others who remain on eternal patrol at a memorial service closing the Southern Regional Convention of the Submarine Veteran of World War II.

"That's the primary thing, just to honor the submarines that were lost and in particular the one that was assigned to this state," says Tullibee Base Commander Charles Harvey.

"465 skippers took 263 boats and 16 thousand men on over 1700 patrols," says guest speaker Terry Rea, NAVSTA Commanding Officer.

The statistical measure of their heroic service is staggering, but the strength of the bond forged during that service also remains nearly beyond measure more than 60 years later.

"The submarine force had the highest percentage casualty rate of any branch of the armed forces," says Harvey.

"They represented less than 2 percent of the United States Navy but they sank 55 percent of the Japanese shipping that was sunk. So they did their part and they deserve their recognition," he added.

By: Don Culpepper

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