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Youth group changes name to honor USS Utah
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Some historians called the USS Utah the forgotten ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor, largely because the venerable battleship built in 1909 was used to train other crews for war.

The USS Utah was the first ship hit by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941. Fifty-eight of its crew of 461 would die in the attack. That group included Peter Tomich, a 48-year-old serving as the ship's chief watertender. He would receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his efforts in helping saving others that day.

In a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol Saturday on the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of 48 members of Utah's Naval Sea Cadet Corps made certain that the USS Utah and the heroism of its crew would not be forgotten.

The corps is for youths ages 13 to 17 who have a desire to learn about the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. The Utah group, one of 402 units in the United States, is celebrating its 30th year in 2013.

In Saturday's solemn ceremony in the state Capitol rotunda filled with symbolism, the Utah group changed its name from the Great Salt Lake Division to the NSCCC Battleship Utah (BB-31).

Navy Lt. j.g. Jeanette Hernandez told an audience that included Utah Pearl Harbor veterans Dewey Farmer and Glen Algood and Gov. Gary Herbert that the name change would help young Utahns to remember, honor and carry on the history of the USS Utah.

"To us, it will not be a forgotten ship," she said.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Marsh said that by changing the group's name, youths who were members of the groups could learn and tell stores about the ship in an effort to keep the Navy traditions alive.

Herbert called Pearl Harbor Day a sad day for the country and the world and said it should provide modern people with three lessons. Those included staying ready, remembering history and showing gratitude for service members who served, served now and will serve.

The governor said that silver place settings were salvaged from the USS Utah and are used during formal dinners at the Utah Governor's Mansion to remind people about the sacrifice and tragedy that occurred at Pearl Harbor.

Others attending the event included 21 members of the U.S. Navy League Cadet Corps for young men and women between the ages of 11 and 14 who are interested in the sea and ships and the nation's seagoing services.

According to the Naval Historical Center, the USS Utah was a 21,825-ton Florida class battleship built at Camden, N.J., that was first commissioned in 1911. The ship served off the coast of Mexico during the Vera Cruz incident, served in the Atlantic during World War I and then operated along the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean before returning to Europe. President-Elect Herbert Hoover took the ship on the homeward-bound leg of a South American tour in late 1928.

The ship was converted to a radio-controlled target vessel in 1931 and then became an anti-gunnery training ship beginning in the mid-30s before being given additional guns in 1941 to enhance her gunnery training mission.

The Naval History Center said the ship's hull was partially righted and moved closer to Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, where it remains today as the tomb of 58 men.

wharton@sltrib.com

More about the USS Utah

Read Pat Bagley's history column about the USS Utah. http://bit.ly/1g7FWWi

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday published an interview with a USS Utah sailor who survived the attack. http://bit.ly/197ZWEd

Capitol • Utah's Naval Sea Cadet Corps renamed to honor first vessel hit in Pearl Harbor in 1941.
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