Bells Across America sound at US naval base in Japan to remember fallen sailors
Stars and Stripes September 21, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – Almost 200 sailors who died on duty throughout the Navy in the past year were honored Thursday morning at the homeport of the U.S. 7th Fleet with flowers, kind words and support from fellow sailors and their families.
About 100 people attended the Navy Gold Star Program’s Bells Across America for Fallen Service Members event at Kosano Park on the naval base.
The eighth annual Bells Across America, an hour-long ceremony, was held at U.S. bases worldwide. Yokosuka Naval Base, the headquarters of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, marked the event for the third time.
“It’s important for us to be there for each other, especially as we remember the service and the sacrifice (of those sailors), but also the sacrifice that continues to be made by their families,” base commander Capt. Les Sobol told Stars and Stripes at the event.
The ceremony opened with a chaplain’s prayer, followed by words from Sobol. Thirty volunteer sailors standing in formation in their summer white uniforms read the names of 196 fallen sailors from the past year.
Among the names was Petty Officer 2nd Class Miguel Cortes, an aviation ordnanceman at Yokosuka who died Aug. 24 at a local hospital after he collided on his motorcycle with another motorist outside a base gate.
Yuko Bivins, a Gold Star family member at the ceremony, remembered her late husband, Cmdr. Frank Bivins, who died of cancer in 2017, according to his obituary.
“It’s been six years since my husband passed away, but coming back here, together with everyone, means a lot, and I can remember my husband and what he has done,” she said.
After the reading of fallen sailors’ names, Sobol, followed by the sailors, brought a flower to the front of the gathering. Then Gold Star family members came forward and finally anyone else at the ceremony.
Taps and a prayer brought the ceremony to an end for another year as sailors and their families paid their respects to Gold Star families.