Yukon to honor fallen heroes

Memorial ceremony next Tuesday for Navy sailors who served on WWII sub

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The USS Grayback, sunk during World War II, was recently discovered off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

Three U.S. Navy sailors who served on a submarine sunk during World War II will be honored for their sacrifice during a ceremony next week in Yukon.

The Yukon Veterans Museum will host the ceremony, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore. The public is invited.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Rick Cacini, the Yukon Veterans Museum’s founder and curator, will be master of ceremonies for a program saluting three Oklahoma submarine members.

Cacini said attendees of next Tuesday’s ceremony will honor “fallen heroes” who gave their “last full measure” to ensure freedoms that U.S. citizens enjoy today.

Lee Carol Stanford

Honorees are radio technician first class Robert Vernon Hansen of Oklahoma City, machinist mate chief Lee Carol Stanford of Ardmore and pharmacists’ mate Ross Lillard Capshaw of Oklahoma City.

These three Oklahomans were among 80 U.S. Navy sailors who served aboard the USS Grayback that went missing in 1944 during WWII. The vessel was presumed lost after being deployed from Pearl Harbor in January that year for its 10th combat mission.

After many years of searching, the submarine was found last fall in its final resting place 1,400 feet below the surface off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.

“Since the USS Grayback was sunk during wartime, these heroes could not be given the honor and respect they deserve,” Cacini said.

Ross Lillard Capshaw

The Yukon memorial ceremony will allow people to pay their respects that these sailors “so richly deserve” while helping bring “final closure” for the families and friends of the three Oklahoma servicemen, he added.

Cacini shared the belief ingrained in the military: “That no man shall be left behind.”

Next Tuesday’s ceremony will feature Navy Capt. Anthony Barnes from Tinker Air Force Base, who will offer remarks about the USS Grayback.

Meanwhile, the Daughters of the American Revolution will provide memorial wreaths for the USS Grayback, Hansen, Stanford and Capshaw. Navy and DAR representatives will lay the wreaths during the service.

Tuesday’s memorial ceremony will include the national anthem presented by CDR (ret.) Ron Edmonson, invocation and closing prayer by Father Rex Arnold and “Taps” performed by trumpeter Larry Taylor.

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. Guests will be encouraged to tour the museum, 1010 W Main, and the photos of the honored sailors will be placed on the fallen heroes’ wall.