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From U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Nov. 26, 2012

NEWPORT, R.I. – Students from the U.S. Naval War College remembered the victims of war, violence, and suppression at Island Cemetery, Nov. 18.

Every third Sunday in November on Germany’s National Day of Mourning, or Volkstrauertag, the German naval officer attending the Naval Command College (NCC) conducts a memorial ceremony to honor the fallen.

This year, German navy Cmdr. Andreas Muegge was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. 

As a symbol for all the fallen, wreaths were laid at the resting places in Island Cemetery of two German submarine sailors killed in action off the New England coast during World War II.

"Their graves are above all representing millions of graves and still more victims of wars and oppression around the world who gave their ultimate sacrifice," said Muegge.

Muegge laid the wreaths and stated that, even after 67 years, World War II still casts a lasting memory.

“It’s not possible to undo the horrors of our past,” said Muegge. “But it’s possible to be aware of the history, to learn from the past, to keep the lessons in mind and to be attentive for the present in order to prevent similar developments in the future.”

One of the sailors remembered and laid to rest here in Newport was G√ľnther Heder, a machinery petty officer on the U-550 – a German submarine that sunk, April 16, 1944, in a battle with USS Peterson (DE-152), USS Joyce (DE-317) and USS Gandy (DE-794).

Though rescued by the USS Joyce, along with 12 other German sailors, Heder died a few weeks later from severe injuries.
The second sailor honored is an unknown sailor from the submarine U-853. The sailor died May 6, 1945, after the U-853 was sunk by the USS Amick (DE-168), USS Atherton (DE-169) and USS Moberly (PF-63).

It wasn’t until Oct. 24, 1960, shortly after the submarine was discovered, that the unknown sailor’s remains would be buried with full military honors by the U.S. Navy.

Muegge was joined by Capt. Perry Yaw, director of the NCC, and sponsors and officers from 19 nations.

Germany’s National Day of Mourning was established in 1952 and is remembered in ceremonies around the world.

Posted by Dan Marciniak