Veterans and military families alike gathered at Naval Station Norfolk located in Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday, April 19, to honor the Iowa 47 on the 33rd anniversary of one of the worst peace-time disasters for the U.S. Navy.
On April 19, 1989, a gun turret on the Norfolk-based battleship USS Iowa exploded and killed 47 Sailors.
The ceremony, held annually since the disaster, focuses on healing and closure for those surrounding the traumatic event, allowing both veterans and families of those lost to unite as one in remembrance of their loved ones.
Attendants and speakers also discussed their shared mental turmoil, such as PTSD, depression, substance abuse and survivors’ guilt.
“If you have PTSD, get help. Get that virus off your hard drive. Go to the VA [Veterans’ Affairs],” said Mike Schlemmer, a Navy veteran who was there that day.
“We live for each other, we live for our families and we keep pushing forward, even when we don’t feel that we can,” said guest speaker Michele Gustafson. “God bless the Iowa 47.”