News: Son Travels to Misawa to Honor Father's Sacrifice
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan - Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72 and Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Misawa hosted a remembrance ceremony and dinner in honor of the crew of the EC-121, call sign Deep Sea 129, April 15, 2014.
This is the 45th year that NIOC Misawa has conducted this remembrance since two North Korean MiG-17s shot down Deep Sea 129 over Japanese national waters, April 15, 1969. However, this year the ceremony had a notable attendee: Cmdr. Joe V. Overstreet, the son of Deep Sea 129's Plane Commander, Lt. Cmdr. James Overstreet.
"I first learned of the remembrance ceremony in 1999," said Cmdr. Overstreet, Navy Region Hawaii Air Operations program manager, and originally from Hattiesburg, Miss. "I was stationed at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi and I ran into a crew from Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1) at the Atsugi Air Show who told me about it. Then I saw a little article from Public Affairs here at NAF Misawa, saying the ceremony had been occurring every year since the incident, and I thought to myself that that's something I'd like to attend someday, so I finally got here."
Overstreet, with wife Julie and daughter Sydney, attended the two bell ceremony at Misawa Air Base's Chapel where the congregation stood to honor the 31 service members who were on board EC-121. Each crew member received two strikes from the bell when their name was read aloud.
"I think it's very important that we pause to remember the contribution and extraordinary heroism of our service members that made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our country." Said Capt. Sean P. Kelley, NIOC Misawa commanding officer. "Together with our VQ shipmates, NIOC is proud to sponsor the annual Two Bell Ceremony that memorializes the events of that tragic day."
In a solemn march across the pier at Misawa Beach, the Overstreet family was able to witness a flowered wreath cast out to sea as they stood for a moment of silence to remember their missing family member and his crew.
"It's important to remember the lives of all of our service members," said Overstreet. "Especially this group, who were a part of that fraternity of Cold War intelligence gatherers, and who all gave the ultimate sacrifice. Due to the nature of their missions, there are a lot of heroic people and actions whose stories haven't been told."
Later that evening Overstreet was the guest speaker during a dinner to honor the 30 Sailors and 1 Marine who lost their lives 45 years ago. Overstreet shared his recollections as a six year old boy at the time of the incident and his thoughts based on research he has conducted about the incident over the past 20 years. Sailors from CTF-72, NIOC Misawa and VQ-1 participated in the dinner which also featured a table setting for 31 to commemorate the lost servicemen. VQ-1 also conducted a static display on an EP-3 for the Overstreet family. To honor the crew, the EP-3 is marked with “LCDR OVERSTREET; 15 APR 1969” painted under the pilot window.
"I think as naval officers and professionals, it's important to take any opportunity to honor those who have gone before us and remember them for the sacrifices that they've made," said Capt. David Wright, CTF-72 Deputy Commander." They paved the way for us and it's important that their sacrifice does not go unnoticed."
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