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May 11th, 2020 at 9:46 am

In May we remember

in: Main

Seventy-five years ago nearly 400 brave souls were lost during an attack on the USS Bunker Hill. It was one of numerous conflicts fought since the Colonists entrenched themselves 245 years earlier on the hill above Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775.

Now we pause to remember 398 crew members of the USS Bunker Hill CV-17 (launched Dec 7, 1942) that were buried at sea after devastating attacks by two Kamikaze pilots. The valiant dead were wrapped in canvas, weighted with a round of ammunition and consigned to the deep. That was Saturday May 12; 1945; the ceremony continued throughout a long day, 

The second Sunday in May was proclaimed as Mother’s Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. President Harry S. Truman stated in 1945, it was an official day for honoring all mothers. He claimed the American mother was “the greatest source of the country’s strength and inspiration.”

On May 8, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe) and on Memorial Day, May 25th we shall honor our war dead, including a neighbor, Seaman Harry A. Dove (1921-2012) of Sewell, NJ. A plaque honoring his WW II service will be unveiled at the James G Atkinson Memorial Park; sponsored by American Legion Post 521 in Washington Township. He nearly succumbed to the Kamikaze attacks on May 11, but recovered and helped locate and bury shipmates, many were close friends.

What about the other Bunker Hill conflicts? The second battle occurred in 1780 aboard the schooner Bunker Hill when she helped capture the 200-ton Commerce. A steamer Bunker Hill ran aground in fog in 1841; a second collided with the Independence in 1843 in the Great Lakes. Surely those sailors were fighting for their very lives. A third steamer launched in 1907 at Philadelphia played a significant role during WW I, she was rechristened as the USS Aroostook. The tanker Bunker Hill, built in Chester PA, exploded in 1964 and sunk in Puget Sound, killing five of her 30-man crew. Battles occurred in and around Bunker Hill, West Virginia during the Civil War in 1861 and Brig Gen James J. Pettigrew, NC CSA died there in 1863 three days after being mortally wounded at Cemetery Ridge. Two battles of Bunker Hill, Illinois occurred in 1938 and 1948 when tornados devastated the town; the second destroyed 80% of the town and caused $4.5 million in damages. The cruiser USS Bunker Hill CG-52 launched in 1986 fired some of the first Tomahawk Cruise missiles in support of Operation Desert Storm (1990) and Iraq Freedom (2003).

In May we shall celebrate V-E Day, Mothers’ Day, USS Bunker Hill and Memorial Day, it will be a month filled with tributes and thankfulness. We especially remember the men and women that continue to serve in far off places in the cause of freedom, and pray for their safe return.

— Gil Bunker, BFA President


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