OZU, Japan– Commander, Naval Forces Japan, Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd and more than 70 citizens of Ozu took part in a memorial ceremony to honor the memory of 14 U.S. Navy PBM-5 Mariner crewmembers from Patrol Squadron Eight Nine Two (VP-892) who died in a crash on Aug. 8, 1952.
The event marked the 60th anniversary of the accident and was coordinated by the U.S. Seaplane VP-892 Memorial Monument Preservation Group, a Japanese organization and sponsored by the city of Ozu. During the ceremony guests paid their respects to the crash site and the monument created in the crewmembers honor with flowers and prayer offerings.
Distinguished guests in attendance included Cloyd, the mayor of Ozu, the Honorable Hiroshi Shimizu, and members of the community who participated in the recovery efforts 60 years ago. They spoke to the audience about the significance of the day’s events.
Cloyd thanked the people of Ozu for their generosity and the contributions made to make the memorial monument and the ceremony possible.
“You fine people of the city of Ozu have ensured these crew members will never be forgotten,” Cloyd said in his remarks to the audience. “You have ensured that their sacrifice will not be forgotten now, or for generations to come. Your inspiring monument reflects compassion, humanity and generosity. To describe it in a single word, it is priceless.”
The Navy aircraft and its crew were one of many flying from forward-deployed locations in Japan in support of the Korean War. The PBM-5 crashed at approximately 2 a.m. in the hills of Ozu after a night take off from then U.S. Air Force Base Iwakuni. The first responders were firefighters from the nearest village, including the current president of the Memorial Monument Preservation Group, Mr. Teruo Terada.
At 11 a.m. the following day, U.S forces arrived and collected the remains of the 14 crewmembers, which had been wrapped in white parachutes along with flowers offered from the local firefighters and volunteers who responded to the crash. As the remains left the site, a temporary altar was created and a local Buddhist priest prayed for the crewmembers to find peace in their final resting place.
It was through Teruda’s and local community members’ diligence and donation efforts that a monument, commemorating the crewmembers’ lives was created on April 18, 2009.
“The crash was a sad accident that happened 60 years ago, I wanted to maintain this as a memorial site for those brave people,” he said. “What happened here is a part of the history in this area and I wanted to pay respect to those who died in the plane crash; that was the motivation for building this.”
The mayor of Ozu, the Honorable Hiroshi Shimizu, thanked Cloyd for his attendance and praised the U.S. support during Operation Tomodachi. He also expressed his gratitude for those in attendance.
“I would like to express my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended this ceremony today,” he added. “This memorial is a fine example of the friendship and trust between the United States and Japan.”
This year marked the first time a ceremony was held at the memorial and Terada said he wants to ensure this event happens every ten years.
“What I hope for is that the family members of these Sailors will have the chance to come and visit this memorial one day,” he said. “That is a message we are hoping to get through with our memorial. We want them to know that their loved ones will never be forgotten in our community.”