YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, in conjunction with the Navy Gold Star Program and Navy installations around the world, hosted the sixth annual “Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members” Sept. 23. The event is aligned with Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day, which is the last Sunday in September.
Sailors in their dress whites gathered alongside family members and other attendees at Ombudsman Park for the mid-morning ceremony. After a brief invocation and opening remarks, the names of 203 Sailors were read aloud, followed by the striking of the bell. Then, to honor the fallen whose names were not called, an additional four bells were rung.
“The great loss of these Sailors made a huge impact on our installation and all of us in this community and the loss still resonates today,” said Capt. Rich Jarrett, Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY).
From alerting Sailors, to marking the passage of time, bells have a special place in naval tradition because of their numerous meanings. While traditionally used to mark the arrival of high-ranking personnel, on this day the bells were rung to mark the loss of service members throughout the year.
“As Sailors we all know we run the risk of not making it home,” said Chief Cryptological Technician (Maintenance) Asia White, who rang the bells during the ceremony. “These men and women made that sacrifice, and so this is us paying our respects.”
CFAY also recognized the names of the Sailors who lost their lives in the tragic ship collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS McCain (DDG 56), which occurred in the 7th Fleet area of operations in 2017.
Four Gold Star families were represented during the ceremony, and received special recognition by Capt. Rich Jarrett, Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.
“To our Gold Star families, know that your Navy family hasn’t forgotten you or your service member,” said Jarrett.
Since its inception in 1947, the Navy Gold Star program has supported spouses, children, parents, and siblings of fallen active-duty service members.
“It’s how we can let those families know that they still have the support of the Navy,” said Shoy Caldwell, the Gold Star Coordinator at CFAY.
For more information on Bells Across America, contact 1-888-509-8759 or visit www.navygoldstar.com.
For more than 75 years, CFAY has provided, maintained, and operated base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, tenant commands, and thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families.