WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 18, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) –On November 13, 2013, the new USS Juneau Memorial Center building in Kearny was dedicated. The Juneau Center will serve as home to the County OEM Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s new, climate-controlled evidence center.
The name of the Center was chosen to honor the sacrifice of the crewmen of the USS Juneau, a cruiser that was sunk in World War ll during the naval battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. 687 crewmembers were lost including 20 from Hudson County, 6 of whom were from Kearny: Thomas Kane, Jr., George A. Willoughby, Earl A. Hall, Jr. Raymond J. Phillips, Wilbur Wood and Adrian Cahill. Five Sullivan brothers assigned to the ship were all lost, leading the Navy to create a rule regarding family members being assigned to the same ship similar to the Army’s rule following the events highlighted in the film “Saving Private Ryan.”
At the ceremony, hundreds of relatives of the fallen crewmen from all over the United States and Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker who represents the City of Juneau in the Alaska Legislature were on hand for the dedication and to see the collection of USS Juneau memorabilia on display.
The Juneau Center was originally a naval construction facility that was deeded to Hudson County after war demobilization. From 1917 to 1949, the Kearny Point site was one of the largest shipbuilding yards in the country employing nearly 30,000 at the peak of World War ll. The USS Juneau was built at Kearny Point and launched in the Hackensack River on October 25, 1941.
Donald Moss, a member of the Kearny Museum Committee, suggested naming the building after the USS Juneau. Paul Shalvoy and Norman Rutan assisted in locating family members of the lost crewmen.
Remarks by Mayor Alberto G. Santos
USS Juneau Memorial Center
November 13, 2013
“It was another time, but it was this place.”
The Town of Kearny and its residents have a long, cherished history of honoring our veterans and the sons of Kearny who made the ultimate sacrifice in devotion to our nation and the cause of freedom. That commitment is evidenced by our town’s history, its namesake and origin, General Philip Kearny, by the permanent monuments and public spaces throughout town dedicated to our veterans, and by the continuing strength of Kearny’s VFW, American Legion and Marine Corps League. Today, it is with great pride to see that tradition continue as we join the County Executive and the Board of Freeholders in the naming of this County facility the USS Juneau Memorial Center. In so doing, we honor the servicemen lost on the USS Juneau when the cruiser was sunk in the South Pacific, in the Battle of Guadalcanal, on November 13, 1942.
This dedication has a powerful resonance in our town and our County because the USS Juneau was built here, in South Kearny, when this place was a ship building city that included plate shops, a foundry, power house, shipways and basins, a hospital and barracks. It was another time, but it was this place. During the nearly 32 years of its operation by the Federal Shipyard and Dry Dock Company, 324 ships were built at the Kearny shipyard and launched on the Hackensack River, including the cruiser USS Juneau. At the peak of the war, nearly 30,000 were employed at the Kearny shipyard, building ships faster than anyone else – an average of one destroyer was launched every 13 days. Most of these workers lived in our local communities and several were tragically killed while building or launching ships.
Not only was our community connected to that fateful day of November 13, 1942 because we made the battle ships with our own hands, but our ties were made more heart-wrenching by the fact that 20 young men from Hudson County, including 6 from Kearny and 3 from Harrison, were aboard the USS Juneau and killed. It was another time, but it was this place that these young men called home. The local West Hudson newspaper reported that it was the greatest mass casualty list since the start of the war and that it had stunned residents of Kearny. It was another time but the street names where the fallen sailors lived in Kearny bear the same names today – Johnston, Rose, Hoyt, Forest and Chestnut – and we know well the schools they attended – St. Cecilia’s School and Kearny High School.
This day, 71 years ago, was amongst the darkest moments for our community and our country during World War II. 687 young men that were on board the USS Juneau were killed. Only ten survived. Their ultimate sacrifice was in defense of our liberty and freedoms.
In the year prior to the sinking of the Juneau, several months before America’s declaration of war in World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt defined four essential freedoms for our country and for the world: the first [he said] is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world; the second is freedom of every person to worship god in his own way – everywhere in the world; the third is freedom from want – everywhere in the world; and the fourth is freedom from fear – anywhere in the world. Roosevelt concluded that “our [country’s] strength is in our unity of purpose” and that “there can be no end save victory.”
The men aboard the Juneau died for those freedoms. Their sacrifice would lead to the liberation of people around the world from oppression, stop genocide and topple dictators. This dedication today, of this place, is a fitting tribute to their sacrifice and the “unity of purpose” that makes our country truly exceptional. We are the stewards of this place and its noble history. This building will serve as a permanent and visible monument of our community’s gratitude and recognition of the sacrifice made by the sailors aboard the USS Juneau in devotion to the cause of freedom – so that we here, on this day, are free to speak and worship, and are free from want and fear.
We also remember the sacrifices made by the families of the sailors who died on the Juneau. The fallen were sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. Their families know the tragic loss of war and we stand with them at this dedication. On behalf of the County, I extend my gratitude to Norm Rutan, Paul Shalvoy and Pete DeMonte for their countless hours of research and phone calls to contact relatives of those who perished on the Juneau so that they could be present today and witness this dedication. I also extend my gratitude to Donald Moss, a dedicated member of the Kearny Museum Committee and lifelong Kearny resident whose idea it was to name this building in honor of the USS Juneau.
Seventy-one years to the day after the sinking of the Juneau, we assemble at this place, where she was built and launched, to reflect on the tragedy of that day and the unity of purpose that preserved our freedoms. The fallen of the Juneau are deserving of this recognition and the lasting respect of our community for all time. May this dedication inspire future generations and deepen our appreciation of their sacrifice. Thank you.