100-Year-Old Veteran Inspires Bill for Pacific War Memorial

By Hawaii.com Team

US Navy Rear Adm. Lloyd R. “Joe” Vasey (ret.) holds a group photo of the crew of the USS Gunnel at his home in Makiki. Photo: JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM.

Centenarian Adm. Lloyd “Joe” Vasey survived 21 attacks by the Japanese, one by the French, one by the Germans and three by friendly fire during his World War II years.

But he said that he’s prepared to go to battle again to see his longtime dream of adding a Pacific war memorial to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

He got an assist Thursday (December 7, 2017) from Hawaii’s congressional delegation.

A bipartisan bill called the “Admiral Lloyd R. ‘Joe’ Vasey Pacific War Commemorative Display Establishment Act” unanimously passed the U.S. House on the 76th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The bill was introduced around Veterans Day by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and an Armed Services Committee member. U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the bill’s U.S. Senate companion, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), on Thursday.

“I came home. Many of my buddies didn’t,” said Vasey, who was a young submarine officer when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor changed his life forever. “There are 150,000 servicemen at the bottom of the sea (from fighting in the Pacific during World War II). I feel sorry for their families. There’s no memorial, no cemetery. I don’t remember their names, but I still see all their faces. I urge everyone to support this.”

Vasey said he’s grateful to the elected officials who have picked up his cause, which stalled after the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Hanabusa said she was glad to do her part, and she’s hopeful that the memorial can come to pass during Vasey’s lifetime.

“The USS Arizona symbolizes the start of the war, and the USS Missouri marks its conclusion. But there is no memorial recognizing the experiences and sacrifices of those who fought in the Pacific,” said Hanabusa as she discussed the measure on the House floor Thursday. “Adm. Vasey served on the USS Gunnel during the Pacific War, and it is his vision that we are realizing with this memorial. The admiral is 100 years old, and he carries with him the memories of those lost in combat and the honor and responsibility of the veterans who survived.”

If the measure passes, it won’t require federal funds. The bill directs the Honolulu- based nonprofit Pacific Historic Parks to design and build the memorial in collaboration with the National Park Service on ground available at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

This story was originally published as 100-year-old veteran inspires bill for Pacific war memorial by Allison Schaefers on December 8, 2017 on www.staradvertiser.com.

Visit the special Pearl Harbor section at www.hawaii.com/pearl-harbor.

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