An Emotional Experience at the Arizona Memorial

Bruce Newell

When I was the captain of the nuclear cruiser USS Bainbridge (CGN-32), I had occasion in 1976 to enter Pearl Harbor on a port visit. While moored in the harbor, I had some guests on board and decided to take them over to the Arizona Memorial in my Captain’s gig. I put on my service dress white uniform, had my gig crew dressed in the proper uniform, and motored over to the Memorial. As you may know, the Japanese are second only to Americans as visitors to the Memorial. My father, LCDR B.B. Newell, was killed in action on October 26, 1942, aboard the USS Hornet (CV-6) in the battle of Santa Cruz. I was ten years old. The DER-322 was named after him in 1943. My mom was the sponsor.

As I came alongside the Arizona Memorial in my gig, there was a tour of some 50 Japanese visitors at the Memorial. When they saw my gig come alongside and me in my uniform, they rushed down to the boat and began to beg my forgiveness for the sinking of the Arizona. Of course they had no idea that my father had been killed by the Japanese. It was such an overwhelming emotional experience for me that I bowed to the Japanese, turned to my guests and said that we would have to depart. Perhaps they could return another day without me being there in my boat in my uniform.