Commemorate Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary at Galveston’s
American Undersea Warfare Center
By Sara G. Stephens
Our kids hear and read about World War II in their classrooms. They’re told it was “the great war.” They know we fought Germany. They know we won. They know of the Holocaust, and they struggle to grasp a time when the world was set ablaze by the atrocities committed in Nazi concentration camps and the bloody battles aimed at ending the nightmare.
With the last of the WWII generation fading from this world, the opportunities for our kids to personally connect with the drama and significance of this war become fewer and fewer. Any chance a parent has to make this connection for their kids should be seized upon with vigor and urgency.
Such an opportunity is now present and oh, so accessible to any Houston family–a mere hour’s day from downtown. And it’s just in time for the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States’ entry into World War II.
On this year’s Pearl harbor Day, Houston families can commemorate this significant battle in world history by visiting Galveston’s American Undersea Warfare Center. The center, located at Seawolf Park, is home to the USS Cavalla, a former U.S. Navy submarine best known for sinking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku, a veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The USS Cavalla was the only submarine to have sunk one of the Pearl Harbor raiders. The 312-foot ship is open for tours daily, offering visitors the chance to see the period-accurate captain’s quarters and the ship’s office, featuring a late 1930s typewriter and other artifacts of the time. Because the Cavalla was in service for so long, visitors here can also witness technology advances that span three decades.
Built in 1943 and commissioned in 1944, the USS Cavalla sunk the 30,000-ton Shokaku on its maiden patrol during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. This feat earned it the Presidential Unit Citation. In 1971, the United States Navy transferred the possession of Cavalla to the Texas Submarine Veterans of World War II and it was then delivered to its permanent berth at Seawolf Park in Galveston.
“It is important that we remember the sacrifice of our submarine force during World War II,” Cavalla Historical Foundation President Dr. Kerry Crooks said. “Losing 52 boats and more than 3,500 men, out of a small elite division of highly trained sailors, speaks somberly of their courage and dedication. Submarine warfare was a hard, deadly and lonely duty.”
In addition to being open for tours daily, the Cavalla Historical Foundation will host a special memorial service and reenactment of Cavalla’s sinking of Shokaku at 12:45 p.m. on December 7 at the warfare center. The event is open to the public.
The American Undersea Warfare Center is also home to the USS Stewart, a WWII destroyer escort that is one of only three left in the world. For more information, visit www.americanunderseawarfarecenter.com.