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17 TRW attends Pearl Harbor memorial

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ethan Sherwood
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

SAN ANGELO, Texas-- Unaware of the attack soon to befall them, many Sailors and their families were still sleeping. 

Others had begun to start their beautiful Sunday in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii. Just before 8 a.m., hundreds of Japanese fighter planes blacked out the sky as they descended on Pearl Harbor. 

After a heroic battle by service members who had been relaxing moments before, the Japanese destroyed and damaged almost 20 U.S. vessels. One of these ships, the USS Arizona, was struck by a bomb. The ship sank with more than 1,000 Sailors trapped inside. 

Three of the men on the USS Arizona were from San Angelo, Texas: Gunner's Mate 1st Class Ernest M. Shawn, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class James A. Martin, and Seaman 1st Class Walton O. Irwin. 

“Out of this small community, there were three people at Pearl Harbor,” said Tom Green County Judge, Steve Floyd. “That indicates how ingrained the Profession of Arms in defense of our country is within this community. The reason the relationship between Goodfellow and San Angelo is so good is because you’re part of our DNA. You’re part of our family.”

To honor the fallen San Angelo natives, the Center for Information Warfare Training Detachment Goodfellow, held a National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony.

At the ceremony, a bell and whistle announced each distinguished guest as they took their seats. Sailors lined the cemetery in their best dress to honor these three San Angelo natives, and additional Sailors who had paid the ultimate price 81 years ago. 

After recapping the events of Pearl Harbor and the events following it, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mark Wess, CIWT Detachment Goodfellow officer in charge, read the eulogy: 

Shawn, born March 4, 1919 in Saratoga, Texas, a proud son of San Angelo, Texas. Enlisted in the United States Navy August 10, 1940. Assigned to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. 

Shawn survived the attack on Pearl Harbor by diving overboard before the ship sank. He was  reassigned to the USS Talbot, and fought courageously in the Battle of Midway and the Solomons Islands campaign. He was discharged from the Navy on August 27, 1945. He died June 28, 1998 and is buried at Belvedere Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas.

Martin, born June 14, 1916 in Trickham, Texas, a proud son of San Angelo, Texas. Enlisted in the United States Navy June 7, 1933. Assigned to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Promoted to Petty Officer 1st Class in January of 1941. Martin was cited for his courageous action May 15, 1941 for swimming to a wrecked ship and rendering aid, saving a man’s life. He was killed in action defending his ship December 7, 1941. Remains never recovered. Forever memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Irwin, born June 27, 1920 in Nimrod, Texas, a proud son of San Angelo, Texas. Graduated from San Angelo School Class of 1940. Enlisted in the United States Navy November 1940. Assigned to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. His remains were never recovered. Forever memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Irwin was later memorialized at the Fairmount Cemetery, in San Angelo, Dec. 7.

“Today, we honor these three heroes,” said Wess. “If you look at the graves of Seaman Irwin’s parents, we placed a box. In that box, we have a piece of the USS Arizona superstructure, and we placed his box so that in spirit, Seaman Irwin can be reunited with his parents one more time.”

Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander, and Judge Floyd then unveiled a memorial stone dedicated to Seaman Irwin next to his parents' graves. 

“We are especially grateful to honor the memories of those three native sons of the beloved city of San Angelo,” said Reilman. “We will continue to say their names, so they stay in our hearts forever. Today we’re able to pay the proper respects detailing their stories of heroism and what they meant to the United States of America.”

As the ceremony came to a close, the audience was invited to lay a penny on Seaman Irwin’s memorial, an old tradition that lets other visitors know that someone stopped to pay their respects. 

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is a day to mourn the loss of our brave Americans and a grave reminder that freedom isn’t free. 

“Those two we honored today gave what President Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion’ to their country,” said Reilman. “Pearl Harbor and September 11 remind generations of Americans that freedom is not free but defended by those who volunteer to serve. We remember, and we will not forget.”