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PEARL HARBOR - Sailors from seven homeported surface ships in Pearl Harbor saluted, cheered and thanked 97-year-old former Chief Boatswain's Mate Ray Emory in a surprise ceremony, June 19.
Emory thought he was visiting the site of where his beloved USS Honolulu (CL 48) was berthed Dec. 7, 1941. On his way down the pier toward the Honolulu's commemorative marker, Emory, riding in an open-air golf-cart-style vehicle, was treated to an honor cordon of 520 Sailors.
Sailors lined the rails on three nearby ships. USS O'Kane rendered three cheers, and chief petty officers shouted the "Navy Chief, Navy Pride" chant as Emory, followed by several family members and close friends, approached.
The ceremony included a fly-by from three SH-60Rs from the HSM-37 Easyriders. USS O'Kane provided a wreath that was placed at the USS Honolulu marker.
Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, welcomed Ray and thanked him for his service throughout the War in the Pacific. During the attack 76 years ago Ray ran to his battle station, a .50-caliber machine gun, to return fire.
"He then fought across the Pacific," Fort said. "He served in seven invasions across the Pacific: Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Leyte Gulf, Lingayen Gulf, and Iwo Jima."
After the war and after he retired from a civilian career Ray continued to serve.
He made it his life's mission to identify the remains of more than 100 previously unidentified service members killed on Dec. 7 and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).
Volunteer Pearl Harbor Survivor Liaison retired Master Chief Yeoman Jim Taylor spoke at the ceremony and said, "Ray, you're the man that did it ... If it wasn't for you, it would have never been done."
Taylor presented Emory with a shadowbox and folded POW/MIA flag printed with the words: "You are not forgotten."
Looking out over the hundreds of Sailors, Fort said, "Ray never forgot his shipmates. We will never forget our shipmate: Navy Chief Ray Emory."
USS O'Kane provided a wreath to be placed at the USS Honolulu marker.
Earlier in the morning, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that another USS Oklahoma Sailor was identified and will be buried June 26 in Pensacola, Florida: Navy Pharmacist's Mate 1st Class John H. Schoonover, 39, of Port Edwards, Wisconsin, was killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II.