Yukon to honor hero sailors

Memorial ceremony Jan. 14 for three members of Navy submarine

The USS Grayback, which was sunk 75 years ago during World War II, was recently discovered off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. Yukon will host a memorial ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 14 to honor three Oklahoma sailors who served on board the submarine. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

Three Oklahoma sailors who served on board a U.S. Navy submarine sunk in World War II will be honored at an upcoming Yukon ceremony.

The Yukon Veterans Museum will present a memorial ceremony for Robert Vernon Hansen, Lee Carol Stanford and Ross Lillard Capshaw on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore. The public is invited to attend the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Yukon Veterans Museum founder/curator Rick Cacini

“We will give tribute to three of our own,” said Lt. Col. (ret.) Rick Cacini, founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum.

Hansen, a first-class radio technician from Oklahoma City; Stanford, a chief motor machinist mate from Ardmore; and Capshaw, a pharmacist’s mate from Oklahoma City; were among 80 U.S. servicemen on board the USS Grayback that went missing in 1944.

The vessel was presumed lost two months after being deployed from Pearl Harbor in January that year for its 10th combat mission.

After 75 years, the USS Grayback was recently discovered off the coast of Okinawa, Japan with a group of underseas explorers whose goal is to find all 52 missing WW II submarines. The missing ship was found 1,400 feet below the surface.

Hansen, Stanford and Capshaw are “three of the heroes” who served on the USS Grayback, Cacini said.

“Since their submarine was sunk during World War II, we could not at that time give them the respect and honor they deserve,” Cacini said. “And that is what we’ll do during the ceremony on January 14 in Yukon.”

“We, in the military, have a belief ingrained in each of us that ‘no man shall be left behind’. These U.S. servicemen have found their final resting place after many years and this brings closure for their families.”

The Jan. 14th memorial ceremony has been moved from the Yukon Veterans Museum to the much-larger Dale Robertson Center to accommodate the audience – including military dignitaries – expect to attend.

The ceremony will feature remarks by a U.S. Navy representative from Tinker Air Force Base and laying of memorial wreaths for the U.S. Grayback and the three honored Oklahoma sailors by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Family members of the Navy veterans and other special guests also will be welcome to share words with the audience.

The Yukon Veterans Museum will provide refreshments after the program.