COLORADO SPRINGS – The USS West Virginia Reunion Association held its annual memorial service at the “America the Beautiful” Chapel in Colorado Springs Saturday afternoon.
The ceremony honors more than 100 fallen shipmates aboard the World War II battleship, and also those shipmates who have passed away since.
A bell rang for each sailor who died in the last year, and that includes Lieutenant James Downing, a Pearl Harbor survivor.
These families and sailors had originally planned on coming to the springs to honor Downing before he unexpectedly passed away.
“He was on the ship, he was on the USS West Virginia and last year we voted to come here to honor him,” said Tom Reiter, the reunion coordinator.
“We expected him to be here [but] we weren’t going to change our plans. This is Jim’s stomping ground and we’re here to honor him.”
Eight sailors and more than 50 people attended the service.
After it was over, the crowd paid respects to Lieutenant Downing’s final resting place.
Planning for next year’s memorial service began Saturday as well. To choose the next location, the association works with sailors to pick a place with significant ties to naval history.