In the Navy, a submarine is referred to as a boat. Every year the Tolling of the Boats Ceremony commemorates those officers and sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country while serving aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
The Dorado Base of the United States Submarine Veterans has held an annual Tolling at the Boats in Wichita Veterans Memorial Park for decades.
This year’s ceremony was held at the SS Dorado Memorial and opened with the sounding of “two bells” on the Park’s bell to signify 1 p.m. A color guard from the local Sea Scouts unit presented the colors. That was followed by WVMP bugler John Noonan played the “Star Spangled Banner” on the trumpet and those in attendance saying “The Pledge of Allegience.”
Kansas 4th District Congressman Ron Estes gave a talk about Kansans’ enthusiastic support for all branches of the military. COL John Buckley, US Army (Ret.), gave a talk about today’s military emphasis on the various branches of the military training and fighting together as a “joint” force – and understanding the traditions of the other branches of service – like the Tolling of the Boats.
As the name of each lost submarine was read, the date the sub was lost, the circumstances which she was lost was announced. And – if there were any Kansans lost on that boat – their names and hometowns were read. After each lost sub was announced, a bell would toll and a red carnation was tossed into the nearby Arkansas River.
The ceremony concluded with a gun salute by the local Marine Corps League and the trumpeter playing of “Taps.”